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What to do if your car is aquaplaning

While we can associate winter with cold and snow, winters in the UK tend be full of rainy days rather than snowy ones. The lack of snow may eradicate some risks for drivers, but the rain can present motorists with a whole other host of problems.

One of the biggest issues motorists face is aquaplaning. But what is it? And what should you do if your car aquaplanes?

Tips for driving in the rain:

  • Make sure your windscreen wipers are in good working order.
  • Always take note of road flood signs.
  • Never chance driving through a flooded road; it could be hiding dislodged drain covers or pot holes.
  • Leave at least four seconds between you and the driver in front in wet weather.
  • Use your headlights when visibility is reduced to less than 100 meters (328 feet).

What's aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning is when a vehicle slides uncontrollably on a wet surface, such as a wet road. Standing water on the road can cause all four wheels to lose grip as it drives onto a cushion of water.

This can cause the driver to feel like they've lost control of the car as it feels like their vehicle is on water-skis.

Aquaplaning can be scary, no matter how much experience you have as a driver.

What causes a car to aquaplane?

Heavy rainfall can result in standing water on the roads, and this will cause you to aquaplane. Poor road conditions, such as mud or smooth surfaces, can add to the problem.

While you might not be able to control how much water is on the road, you can control your speed and the condition of your tyres.

If your tyres are damaged, worn or improperly inflated, you'll increase your chances of aquaplaning. And the faster you travel on a wet road, the less grip your tyres will have.

What should you do?

When your car aquaplanes, your steering goes very light and, although it generally only lasts a couple of seconds, it can feel like much longer.

To regain control of your car, keep calm and avoid any sudden movements. Don't slam your brakes, as this can cause the car to skid. Instead, slowly ease your foot off the accelerator and don't try turning the wheel.

If you do need to correct your steering, do so with the smallest of movements, while dipping the clutch at the same time.

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