How to Prevent Your Car From Hydroplaning

April 9, 2012

Learn how to modify your driving technique in the rain to prevent losing control of your car due to hydroplaning.


Hydroplaning can be a very dangerous driving situation. When you hydroplane your car is actually off of the road. A layer of water is in between your tires and the surface, and this causes the car to actually float on top of the water. During this time, you may lose total control of steering and in turn, the car. There are several things you can do to help prevent your car from hydroplaning, and also control your car while it is happening.

Maintain Your Tires

Keeping up with regular maintenance can help you avoid this driving situation. The tires are the primary part affected by hydroplaning, so naturally the tires are what you want to focus on. Make sure your tire inflation is correct to the owner's manual specifications. When the tires are over or under inflated, hydroplaning becomes more likely. Make sure that your tires are not bald or lacking tread. The less traction your tires have, the easier it is for them to lose control.

Slow Down

Most of the time, when you hydroplane it is because you were going too fast. You can hydroplane over even small puddles going 15 to 20 miles per hour. You may not even feel the effects, but it does happen. On the highways going 50 or more miles per hour, you will feel the effects because you probably will lose control. When it starts to rain, you should slow down, even if the traffic around you isn't.

Avoid Puddles

A simple step of defensive driving is to avoid puddles. You can hydroplane without a puddle (just with rain), but you are far more likely to hydroplane over standing water. This is because the water has depth, and it is easier to float on top of it than water that is just hitting the ground. Of course, if traffic does not allow you to veer away from puddles, you have to go over them, but slow down when possible.

Don't Brake

If you do hydroplane, here is how you can ensure that you are safe. First, stay calm. Losing your emotional control will not help in the situation. Do not slam on your brakes. If you have an older car without anti lock brakes, you are likely to cause a skid that will be uncontrollable. Instead, remove your foot from the gas, and coast to a slower speed. You may not want to do this since it seems like it will take longer, but it is proper this way.

Don't Steer Into It

This is not a typical skid. If you are drifting in any direction, do not turn in that direction, so that friction is reduced. You have to sit and wait as you hydroplane. When it's over, you will feel the road again. Once that happens, you can steer through the skid. Test the brakes to make sure that they still work properly, as they may have excess water in them.