What to do when aquaplaning? - Good tyres minimize risks

Aquaplaning: when tyres slip on wet roads and it is virtually impossible to maneuver the car, it’s a nightmare for drivers. We will explain what you can do and why a good tyre minimizes the risk considerably.

What happens when water creates troubles

Water on the road normally flows through the grooves of the tyre tread outward. However, if the road is very wet, the water does not escape completely. The car tyre splashes the water to the front like the Doppler Effect. In the end, if the amount of water is too much, the liquid forms like a wedge between the tyre and the road. The tyre then loses contact with the road. As a result, the brakes and the steering movements have almost no effect. If only one tyre slips, the driver can steer the car in the opposite direction. If the vehicle is equipped with ESP (Electronic Stability Control), the system will automatically turn on as soon as it comes into contact with the road. If the two front wheels are affected, the rear wheels that still stick to the ground keep the car moving. If all the wheels are slipping at the same time, the behavior of the car will depend on the centre of gravity and the direction taken. On a straight path, the chances are good. The worst case scenario would be if both rear wheels are affected, then the car will inevitably slide.

How does the car tyre impact? 

It depends on the tyre, apart from the climatic conditions, whether aquaplaning exists. The flatter the tread of the tyre, the faster it slides. The ADAC gives 3.5 mm as a guide. If the depth of the tread is less, the risk of slipping increases drastically. Therefore, if possible, all tyres should have an adequate drawing depth. If there are differences between the individual tyres, the tyres with the deepest tread must be mounted on the rear axle. Several uncomfortable consequences may arise here in case of aquaplaning. From a purely statistical point of view, wide tyres are more likely to be affected by aquaplaning than their narrower counterparts, despite the special treads designed to prevent it. The risk increases the more worn the wide tyres are. The pressure of the tyres also influences the slide. If the air pressure is too low, the pressure at which the tyre rests on the road surface decreases (contact pressure). Then water is easier to interpose. How to handle aquaplaning?

The most reasonable recommendation is to adjust your speed. If you travel slower in humid conditions, the risk reduces considerably. Worn dampers do not press the tyre with the same force on the road. The risk of water intervention increases. The weight of the vehicle has no effect. If there are visible traces on the road, you must drive with caution. A lot of water accumulates in the wells. Also be careful in depressions and underpasses.

How to avoid aquaplaning when it's too late?

Even those who follow all the tips are not one hundred per cent immune to aquaplaning. If this happens, keep the following tips in mind:

• Avoid braking as much as possible: braking can prolong the time of slipping. If one wheel achieves traction while the others continue to slide, the car deforms.

• Do not drive so fast: the effect is the same as when braking: the car can deform. Guide gently in the opposite direction and then keep the steering wheel straight.

• Disconnect and let the car roll until you have control again.

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