With safety features such as Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist (BA) equipped on your daily driver, it would be careless to think that your wheels would still point towards wherever and whenever you wish, especially in wet conditions. Should a layer of water between your tyres and the road not be dispersed quickly enough, your car will be highly susceptible to hydroplaning or aquaplaning, as some of you might call it.
If you have been on the internet long enough, surely you’d have come across videos of cars or trucks “drifting” on a slippery road. Unfortunately, more often than not, these slides are not done intentionally. Hydroplaning occurs when your car drives through a layer of water on the road and the tyres are not dispersing water efficiently, resulting in the tyres spinning on suspended water. This phenomenon causes the tyres to slip and not respond to steering, braking or acceleration inputs and may cause the vehicle to skid uncontrollably.
So, what are the main causes of hydroplaning besides a layer of water on the road? According to Michelin Malaysia, it is all in the tyres. Tyres with low or minimal thread depth will have lesser capacity to disperse water. Tyre pressure also plays a role in the tyre’s performance and Michelin Malaysia quotes that if the tyre pressure falls below 30 percent of its recommended value, it greatly increases the risk of hydroplaning.
Besides ensuring that your tyres are in great condition, another obvious way to reduce the risk of hydroplaning is to reduce your speed when approaching large puddles or standing water. However, should you be in an unfortunate position to lose control of your car in the wet, here are some tips to help you regain control – gently ease off the accelerator to regain traction and do not slam on the brakes abruptly because by doing so you will upset the balance of the vehicle.
To sum it up, all the active safety systems in your car are there to act as a safety net but a car will still succumb to the laws of physics. In this rainy season, let us all be more mindful of our surroundings and driving approach. Also, you should probably not hold off that tyre change any longer.