What is Hydroplaning?: Tips and Techniques for Safer Driving

what is hydroplaning

Have you had to stop and ask yourself “what is hydroplaning?” As the rainy season descends upon us, it’s crucial to address a potential hazard on the roads: hydroplaning. Superior Auto of Seattle cares deeply about your safety on the road, which is why we’re diving into the ins and outs of hydroplaning, helping you understand what it is, how to recognize it, and most importantly, how to stay safe when faced with this weather-related driving challenge.

What is Hydroplaning?

Well, what IS hydroplaning anyway? Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds between the tires of your vehicle and the road surface. This separation causes a loss of traction, leading to the loss of control over the vehicle’s steering, braking, and overall stability. Essentially, the tires are no longer in direct contact with the road, resulting in a feeling of floating or sliding.

Recognizing Hydroplaning

what is hydroplaning

Signs and Symptoms- What is Hydroplaning:

1. Loss of Control: When your vehicle suddenly feels unresponsive or starts drifting without your input, it might be hydroplaning.

2. Lack of Response: If you notice that your steering wheel isn’t responding as usual or the brake pedal feels less effective, hydroplaning could be the cause.

3. Unusual Noises: Sometimes, hydroplaning creates a distinct sound like splashing or a change in the noise of the tires.

Conditions that Spur the Question: What is Hydroplaning?

Rainy Weather: Especially during the first few minutes of rainfall when water mixes with oil residue on the road, increasing the chances of hydroplaning.

Speeding: Driving at high speeds significantly raises the risk of hydroplaning.

Worn Tires: Tires with low tread depth or inadequate inflation are more prone to hydroplaning.

What to Do When Hydroplaning:

1. Stay Calm: Panicking can worsen the situation. Keep a steady grip on the steering wheel.

2. Reduce Speed: If possible, slow down by gradually easing off the accelerator rather than using the brakes. Avoid sudden movements.

3. Avoid Braking: Abrupt braking can cause skidding. Instead, lightly apply the brakes if necessary. Tapping the breaks instead of hammering down will make all the difference.

4. Steer Straight: Try to keep the vehicle moving in a straight line by gently steering in the direction of the road.

what is hydroplaning

Common Mistakes When Dealing with Hydroplaning


Many drivers tend to overcorrect when they feel their vehicle slipping on water. Jerking the wheel or making sudden, sharp movements can exacerbate the loss of control, leading to a dangerous situation.

Panic Braking:

The instinct to slam on the brakes is strong when faced with a loss of control. However, this can lock up the tires and make steering even more challenging.


Driving too fast in wet conditions significantly increases the likelihood of hydroplaning. Reducing your speed can significantly reduce the risk.

Neglecting Tire Maintenance:

Worn-out tires with low tread depth are more prone to hydroplaning. Regularly checking tire pressure and tread depth is crucial for safer driving, especially in wet conditions.

Preventative Measures

1. Proper Tire Maintenance: Ensure tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth.

2. Reduce Speed in Rainy Conditions: Slowing down can significantly decrease the chances of hydroplaning.

3. Avoid Cruise Control: Disabling cruise control in wet weather allows better control over the vehicle.

what is hydroplaning

Stop Asking “What is Hydroplaning” – Now You Know!

At Superior Auto of Seattle, your safety on the road is a priority, so when you come to us and ask: “what is hydroplaning”, we’re going to let you know! Understanding hydroplaning and knowing how to react can make a significant difference in avoiding accidents during the rainy season. Recognizing the signs, staying calm, and employing the right techniques can help you regain control and navigate through hydroplaning situations safely.

Remember, being prepared and maintaining a cautious approach while driving in wet conditions can make all the difference between a safe journey and a potentially hazardous one. Stay safe, stay informed, and drive responsibly!