That thin layer of water is the difference between your tyre gripping the road and your car completely losing contact and sliding out of control. The deeper the water, and the faster your speed, the more likely this is to happen. Without the grip, you won’t be able to brake or steer.
Speed is the biggest contributor to aquaplaning, because your tyres simply don’t have time to channel the water away before they’re lifted off the surface. However, speed is not the only issue. Other variables include:
When your drive wheels lose traction with the road, you’ll notice a rise in the engine revs and an inaccurate reading on your speedometer as your wheels begin to spin.
If you’re driving round a bend and you lose traction in your front wheels, your car will drift towards the outside of the bend. If your back tyres lose traction, you’ll move sideways into a skid. If all four tyres lose traction at once, your car will slide in a straight line. If you’re turning at the time you’ll slide into the outside of the bend. When any of the tyres regain their traction, you might experience a sudden jerk in whichever direction that tyre is facing.
You’re most likely to aquaplane when driving through puddles or standing water. It’s not always easy to see how deep a puddle is so always reduce speed if there has been a lot of rainfall.
Puddles tend to form at the side of the road, along the pavement edge. So, if it’s been raining, move your car towards the centre of the road or lane.
Drive in the tyre tracks left by the cars in front of you. Their tyres will already have displaced a lot of the surface water before yours have to.
Why don’t electronic stability control systems prevent aquaplaning?
Electronic stability control systems only work when you have contact with the road. While they may be able to help you recover from a skid, once the tyre has regained its traction, they can’t help prevent aquaplaning.
As a side note, you should never use cruise control when driving on wet or icy roads as you may need to reduce your speed smoothly and manually.
Uniroyal invented the rain tyre in 1969 and, ever since, its designers and engineers have pioneered wet weather technology. The Shark Skin Technology (SST) used in our RainSport 3 and RainExpert 3 tyres, for example, efficiently and swiftly disperses water, so the risk of aquaplaning is reduced.