5 Tyre Tips on Driving in the Wet
Published On 07-Jun-2016
[caption id="attachment_877" align="alignnone" width="1024"] 5 Tyre tips to stay safe while driving in the rain[/caption]
Monsoon comes as a godsend after the scorching heat of summer. While rains offer the much needed respite we all wait for desperately, it disrupts our day to day lives and causes a bit of an inconvenience as well, especially when you travel by your own vehicle/motorcycle. However pleasant driving or riding in the rain be, it requires utmost care and concentration on your part before you step out and hit ‘wet’ roads for a joyride or a daily commute.
Water-logging, puddles, slippery roads, etc., are a common sight during monsoon in India. As a result, it is worthwhile to carry out essential check-ups on your vehicle so as to make it rain-worthy beforehand. While there are a lot of components in a vehicle that may need repairing or a complete replacement, the most crucial of all is unarguably the vehicle’s contact patch with the road- tyres.
You need to have sturdy and ‘fit’ tyres to help your vehicle wade through wet roads and puddles. So, how to ensure if you or your vehicle’s tyres are up for the job? Here are a few quick tyre tips to be safer whilst driving in the rains:
[caption id="attachment_878" align="alignnone" width="1007"] Slow down when approaching standing water or puddles[/caption]
1. Avoid or reduce Aquaplaning: Aquaplaning occurs when the water between your tyres and the road surface cannot be dispersed quickly enough. This creates a layer of water that builds up in front of the tyres. The water pressure exceeds the pressure of the tyre on the road, thus, resulting in the tyres to lose contact with the road surface, causing traction loss. This, in turn, causes the tyres to ‘float’ above the road and prevents the vehicle from responding to steering, braking or accelerating inputs. In simple words, your car will feel like a boat, only one which is not at all steerable. Aquaplaning is one of the most scariest and dangerous situations while driving on wet roads and can potentially lead to an uncontrollable spin or skid.
Drive at low speeds, especially while approaching standing water or puddles and maintain correct air-pressure to spare yourself the horror of aquaplaning.
2. Tyre Tread Depth: Checking tyre condition and tread depth is the most basic of steps to ensure the worth of your vehicle’s tyres. A bald or worn out tyre will increase chances of skidding or aquaplaning on wet surfaces. Make sure the tread depth of each tyre is between 2-4 mm at the very least. The grooves and sipes on a tyre help in quick dispersal of water from between the road and the tyre contact patch. A worn out tread/tyre will result in compromised road-grip and stability.
[caption id="attachment_879" align="alignnone" width="833"] A tyre with worn out tread/grooves/sipes will not disperse water quick enough[/caption]
3. Fitting new tyres: If the tread-depth dips below than what is recommended, junk the old tyres and buy a new pair. However, in many cases, it has been seen that not all the tyres need replacing in a vehicle at the same time; it could be only be one or two tyres.
If you buy only two new tyres, install them on the rear axle irrespective of whether your car is front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. This is done because a worn out set of tyres will tend to oversteer (rear spinning out) when fitted on the rear axle. However, when placed on front, the same tyres will precipitate understeer (turning less sharply; vehicle moves away from the desired trajectory) which is more controllable and of course less scary.
Make it a point to put tyres with more tread-depth at the back during routine tyre services as well.
4. Maintaining correct air pressure: An over-inflated tyre will reduce the surface area of the tyre, thereby, also reducing its contact patch on the road. This will make your vehicle more prone to aquaplaning. Similarly, an under-inflated tyre will put more stress on the tyre sidewall and will increase the chances of a puncture if in case you inadvertently hit something - which is more likely to happen during rains than on normal driving days. As per a study, chances of aquaplaning increase sharply if tyre pressure is reduced 30 per cent below the recommended value.
Also, maintaining correct air-pressure is not a monsoon-specific practice. You should always maintain correct pressure on all wheels all the time.
[caption id="attachment_880" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Don't take corners over enthusiastically on wet roads[/caption]
5. Cornering: When a vehicle encounters a corner, its tyres go through a series of rapid activities like decelerating, braking, leaning and accelerating- all at the same time. Whilst driving/riding on wet roads, try and avoid putting excessive ‘cornering’ forces on tyres. The physics behind this is simple- the friction between the road and tyre is reduced by a great extent in such conditions. As a result, you are required to take corners in a more conservative manner than usual. Otherwise, you may end up skidding or losing control of the vehicle completely!