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Aqua(Hydro)planing prevention?

FibretipFibretip Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I was just driving to the cinema in the pissing rain when I ended up gliding across the road at a roundabout. doing everything i'd been told i pushed in the clutch, pumped the breaks gently and let the car find it's way before going back on the gas. Fine. Then about 5 minutes later the same shit happens, again at a roundabout. I was going round these roundabouts in second gear at about 15-20mph. The car was empty except my wife and I sitting in the front, and for reference it's a Citroen C3.

Now i've done the science on aquaplaning, i know the things to do, but to be honest, it terrified both of us, once was bad enough, but twice? the rain was so bad we could barely see the car infront of us, so i'm guessing it only happened because the volume of water on the road was so bad, and the c3 is a pretty light car, so the two together ended up in the back wheels planing and moving out.

But my question is... is there anything you can do to defend against aquaplaning? Wikipedia suggests very helpfully "don't do it in the first place"

should I slow to a crawl for roudnabouts in the rain? should i be doing them in first gear or something? I'm pretty shaken up by it, i've only been driving 3 months, so I don't really know the car that well yet, and nobody i know has ever aquaplaned, so it was one of those things that you hear about but think it probably will never happen :S


TL:DR - How can I drive defensively against aquaplaning?

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2007
    First and foremost: new, good tires. I like Potenzas for wet roads, they grip nicely even on a Camaro in a downpour. If your tires are all worn out or just shitty in the first place, they won't provide adequate wet-traction. Beyond that you end up having to get comfortable with how a sliding car moves and behaves, which is best done in a very large, very vacant parking lot whose owner has agreed to let you use it (legalities). Learn what it feels like when the car is about to start sliding, what it feels like sliding, and what it feels like when you get it back (which consists of pointing the front wheels where you want the car to go and trying to make them spin at the same speed that the car is sliding, or accellerating slightly to pull the rear back in line, depends on the car and the slide). When you're comfortable with all of that you'll be able to better avoid sliding in the first place and how to most efficiently regain traction.

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    CycophantCycophant Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    1) Get better tires. If the car is brand new, it probably came with shit tires. Alternatively, if the car is quite old, the tires have probably never been replaced. Even if the tires are newish, sometimes they'll be replaced with substandard, or incorrect tires. Either way, your tires will have a big effect on wet-weather performance. I have no idea where you live (I'd assume UK or something, since you're driving a C3), but giving up all-seasons for a dedicated set for driving in the summer and wet roads, then an alternate for winter, is the best way to go. And avoid low profile, super wide performance tires - they generally suck for wet-weather performance (though probably not an issue on your C3). There's simpler stuff too though, like ensuring your tire pressure is correct. That alone can make a difference.

    2) Drive slower. Hydroplaning gets worse with speed, and it also becomes much less easy to deal with at higher speeds. Driving below a certain speed (unfortunately, probably lower than 15-20mph) will technically get rid of any possibility of hydroplaning, but you'll probably get chased down for driving so slowly as well. Just keep the speeds down so that if/when it does occur, you can control it (which it sounds like you did already).

    3) Don't drive when it's pissing buckets. Seriously, sometimes it just rains too heavily, in such a short time span, for the roads to effectively clear the water. When this happens, nothing will be able to prevent you from hydroplaning in some of the puddles (besides the aforementioned driving at 5mph...). If you find you're hydroplaning a lot, and it's raining quite hard, sometimes the best thing to do is pull off the road and wait it out for a bit.

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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Yeah, I'll echo these guys. At 20mph, hydroplaning shouldn't be an issue, so the likely culprit is the tires. You're already correcting the right way, so invest in some new ones.

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    SeydlitzSeydlitz Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    If you're right and you were only doing 15-20mph and you were still aquaplaning, its a safe bet that your tyres are bald. I'd check them.

    If you can see the surface water, its always best (if its safe to do so) to slow to a crawl to cross it. You don't know how deep it might be for a start, and at least if you do hit something it will be at 10mph rather than 30. Second gear should be fine for that mind, you don't really want to be swapping to first unless you're coming to a complete halt.

    You said the back-end was coming out? Thats a bit odd, as the C3 is a front-wheel-drive, and if all the weight was in the front as well then... err, well the back-end shouldn't really have gone anywhere.

    In conclusion: Deffo get your tyres checked, and slow right down for surface water (if safe).

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    FibretipFibretip Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Thanks for the quick infos guys. It's a used car, so i have no idea of the tire history... the tread on them is okay depth wise, but i guess that doesn't mean much... I'll go down to the garage in the next couple of days and have a chat with them about it, knowing the dealership i bought it from they're probably the cheapest entry level blandorama tires they sell.

    As for the back wheels... that felt like the culprit to me, i was going round the roundabout, and all of a sudden my back wheels are going more towards the roundabout than i am and i'm starting to face the outside... but that could just as easily be described as my front wheels going the other way i guess!

    I know i was going slow already because i hate roundabouts so i'm always extra cautious on them, so i'll have to check this tire stuff... i remember my instructor telling me he was wary of new small cars like the c3 and fiesta etc because they hydroplane so easily because of the weight vs the size of the tires or something, but i never paid much attention at the time as small cars is all i can afford!

    also, yep... i'm in the uk.


    thanks again!

    Fibretip on
    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
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