The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Tire Preparation For Hydroplaning
When you drive during summers and it rains and the roads are covered in water you might experience hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when the tires lose contact with the road, as the tire can’t press away the water that is on top of the road surface. Factors that impact this inclue how much water is present, how deep the treads are on the tires and the treads ability to push away water so that the tread will remain in contact. The higher the speed you are driving with, the less time the tire has to disperse the water, so a lower speed is preferred. When the tire loses contact with the road surface, you will lose the ability to control the vehicle, as the tire will only be in contact with the water and not the road.
The impact of the tread depth, as that impacts the volume of the groove, means that as the tire wears you will lose tread depth and the risk for aquaplaning increases. The depth multiplied with the width constitutes the volume where the water can be stored and can be used to channel the water to the sides. This is why it is important to have sufficient tread depth and why you should not drive with tires that have less than 4/32 inch remaining depth. It is not only aquaplaning properties that are reduced, your wet grip and thus your braking distance will be negatively impacted. The same goes with your grip on dry roads. So regardless of your driving conditions, the tires should always be changed when the tire’s groove depth is below 4mm.
Tire pressure is another factor that can impact the performance when you drive, regardless if you have rain or not. Tire pressure should always be checked to ensure that you have the right pressure in all four tires. With underinflated tires the contact area can increase and making it more difficult to push away the water as intended.
Tire manufacturers have addressed hydroplaning as it is a major cause of weather related accidents during the summers. A lot of innovations have been added to summer tires for how to better remove the water and how to increase the speed by which the water is removed. This has made the tires safer for use during the summer period than the traditional tires that don’t have these added features aimed to prevent hydroplaning.
In summary, if you invest in tires that reduce the risk for hydroplaning and ensure that you have tires with a tread depth of more than 4/32 inch, you should be safe to drive even while it is pouring down. This is however not a reason to try to drive too fast. Speed will always have a negative impact when the weather conditions are bad. Your vision will be impaired at high speeds due to the wipers inability to remove the rain from the windshield at high speeds.