What Is Hydroplaning?


“Hydroplaning is a situation in which a vehicle tire rides up on a thin surface of water, losing contact with the pavement (traction), and resulting in sudden loss of control.” It is also known as Aquaplaning.

  • Be cautious the first 10 minutes of rainfall. The first 10 minutes after it starts to rain allows oil and other substances that had dried on the road to stir up and make a slippery mixture of film on the road. This usually makes this time the most dangerous because of the extra slippery conditions.
  • Drive slowly during this time and be on alert for you or others drivers skidding.
  • Usually, over time with a heavy downpour over an extended time it will wash the roads clean, making it less dangerous.
  1. Stay slow on wet roads! When going faster, it is more difficult to continue to have traction in wet conditions. When a tire connects with a puddle or “standing water” when going fast, instead of having traction, they would be more likely to skid.
  • You are allowed to go under the speed limit if the roads are wet. Although, you should not go slower than the flow of traffic.
  • It’s a good idea to go slow if you can see ahead some standing water.
  1. Avoid puddles and standing water while driving. These are the areas where it is easier to hydroplane. They aren’t easy to see, so drive cautiously when enough rain has fallen to start collecting in puddles.
  • Puddles are usually along the side of the road, so stay more so in the center lane instead.
  • Try to drive within the tire tracks of the vehicles in front of you. This actually decreases the chance of water to build up in front of your tires.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are working correctly so you can see puddles ahead more effectively.
  1. If applicable, turn off your cruise control. You may need to reduce speed quickly and it’s easier when your foot is already on your brake and paying attention to the conditions and speeds in front of you.
  2. If applicable, drive in a lower gear. This allows you to maintain your traction easier and prevents you from going to fast. You should NOT do this on the highway, but on roads with lower speeding limits it’s a good safety precaution for driving down hills or taking turns without hydroplaning.
  3. Maintain mild pressure on your brake and gas. If you must brake, do so in gentle “pumps”; if your car has anti-lock brakes, then you can brake normally (You can find out by seeing if you have a light with ABS on). Try not to lock the wheels, this could possibly throw your car into a skid.
    • Try to avoid any sudden actions (acceleration, braking, turns etc.)
    • Be careful on curvy roads, making sure you steer smoothly and slowly.


Regaining Control When You Hydroplane


  1. Understand what is happening when you skid. While you hydroplane, water has built up in your tires so much that they lose contact with the road.
  • If the vehicle is driving straight, you’ll feel loose and veering in either direction. There could be an increase in your speedometer and engine RPM (revolutions per minute) as your tires begin to spin.
  • If the front wheels hydroplane, the vehicle will start to towards the outside of the bend.
  • If the back wheels hydroplane, the vehicle’s rear end will begin to veer sideways into a skid.
  • If all four wheels hydroplane, the car will slide forward in a straight line, like a large sled.


  1. Stay calm. Wait for the skid to stop and keep your concentration. Try to avoid panicking or doing anything rash. You just have to wait for it to stop.
  • Most hydroplane skids last for a split second before your car regains its lost traction.
  • Wait it out. It’s the best way how to get out of the situation.
  • Do NOT slam the brakes or yank the wheel. This will cause you to lose further traction of the vehicle.


  1. Ease your foot off the gas. Accelerating into a skid could make matters worse, instead, ease up and move slower until you regain your control before accelerating again.
  • If braking while entering the skid, ease up on the brake until it’s over.
  • If you’re driving manual transmission, disengage the clutch as well.


  1. Steer in the direction you want the car to go. Maintain a firm grip on the wheel and carefully point the car in the direction you want to go. This is known as “steering into the skid” and it’s the best way to get your car back on track after skidding.
  • Don’t turn too sharply or you’ll over correct.
  • Jerking the wheel back and forth could cause the car to spin out of control, so it is best to keep steady hands on the wheel and make small movements to correct yourself.


  1. Brake carefully. Never slam your brakes when you are hydroplaning. This will make your car do unpredictable things. If you NEED to brake during the skid, pump your brakes gently to regain traction with the road.
  • If you have anti lock brakes (ABS) brake normally, since the car’s automated brakes will do the pumping for you.


Keep Your Tires In Good Condition

It’s a good idea to see from time to time if your tires have good treading still. If they’re bald or inadequate, they are unable to maintain good contact with the road; especially in wet conditions. If you rotate (switch out) your tires periodically, this prevents tires from wearing down too much on one side. Also, making sure your tires are properly inflated is important to check regularly to make sure the tires center as high as it labeled. Each of these jobs to check and service your vehicle can actually be done by Alta Nissan Richmond Hills factory trained technicians who know exactly what they are looking for. Come in and change out worn out tires with us and stop hydroplaning before you risk it. Nobody knows your Nissan like a Nissan Dealer.

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