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Answering All Your Car Questions

Getting an edge on wet roads

(NC)—There's probably no worse feeling. You're driving on a wet stretch of road and all of a sudden it feels as though your vehicle has a mind of its own. Of course, your vehicle isn't possessed; it has "caught a wave." You're hydroplaning – your tires are no longer in direct contact with the road as they are riding on top of the water that has pooled on the road.

Hydroplaning can occur when a combination of speed, tire wear, tire inflation or the depth of water on the pavement causes the tires to lose traction. Essentially, a layer of water creates a barrier between the road and your tires. This barrier can cause you to lose traction and glide or hydroplane across the water's surface.

In wet weather, the tires that have been properly maintained and are in good running condition can cut through the water and maintain contact with the pavement at speeds less than 50 km/h. In cases where the tires are excessively worn (bald tires) or underinflated, or the water is very deep, you may still hydroplane at slower speeds.

At higher speeds (70 km/h and higher), the wedge of water in front of the tires may pass under the tires and the tires will ride on a cushion of water – resulting in a possible complete loss of traction.

Tire manufacturers are continually working to produce tires that give you an edge in wet conditions. HydroEdge™, Michelin's latest ultra-premium (mass-market) tire offers superior performance on dry or wet surfaces as well as exceptional hydroplaning resistance.

"The all-season tire HydroEdge features dual center grooves that are not exposed to the sipes or other water execution mechanisms," explains Tony Mougios, Michelin Brand Manager for Canada. "This means that these tires can evacuate water very quickly. Specially angled HydroChutes also reduce the water flow turbulence for excellent overall wet weather performance."

Along with purchasing tires that offer hydroplaning resistance like HydroEdge, Michelin offers the following tips for preventing and/or dealing with hydroplaning.

To prevent hydroplaning:

  • Check your tires and tire inflation regularly
  • Reduce your speed even more when approaching still water and puddles
  • Drive in the tracks of preceding vehicles

Should your vehicle hydroplane:

  1. Shift to neutral (on a standard transmission, depress the clutch)
  2. Activate the hazard lights
  3. Grip the steering wheel firmly and steer where you want to go
  4. Avoid braking or accelerating
  5. Check your rear view mirror

- News Canada