Aquaplaning: How to prevent it and how to manage it?

BMW 1 Series E87
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Aquaplaning is a dangerous phenomenon occurring when a vehicle's tires lose contact with the road surface due to a layer of water. The result is a loss of traction, steering, and vehicle control even when braking.

In this article, we will shed light on aquaplaning, its causes, how to prevent it, and how to manage it safely.


Causes of aquaplaning

Several factors contribute to the risk of aquaplaning, including:

1. Water on the road

Water on the road

The accumulated layer of water on the road due to heavy rains or poor drainage increases the risk of aquaplaning. The cause of water accumulation can also be an uneven road surface. Potholes, cracks, and other irregularities on the road can cause uneven accumulation of water.

2. Tires

Tire tread depth: Worn tires have a reduced ability to drain water, which increases the risk of aquaplaning.

Tire inflation: Underinflated tires can reduce water dispersion efficiency and increase the contact area between the tire and the water.

3. The driver himself

Speed: Higher speed increases the risk of aquaplaning because the tires have less time to disperse water effectively.

Driving style: Sudden or aggressive maneuvers, such as sharp turns or hard braking, can also significantly contribute to aquaplaning.

What causes aquaplaning, and why is it dangerous?


When aquaplaning occurs, the vehicle's tires lose contact with the road surface. Due to the loss of contact with the road surface, the following occurs:

  • Loss of traction: Aquaplaning causes a loss of traction, and this results in worse braking, steering, and also inefficient acceleration.
  • Loss of steering control: When the tires lose contact with the road, the vehicle's steering becomes unresponsive, increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Loss of brake control: Without proper tire-to-road contact, the vehicle's braking system becomes less effective, increasing stopping distances and the likelihood of collisions.

How to prevent aquaplaning?

If you want to minimize the risk of aquaplaning, these tips can save your neck in some situations:

  • Check the tire tread depth: Regularly check the tire tread depth and replace worn tires immediately.
  • Inflate tires to the correct pressure: Follow the recommended tire pressure for your car according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed: Adjust your speed to the road conditions, especially during heavy rain or when driving on wet roads.
  • Avoid sudden or aggressive maneuvers: Drive smoothly and avoid sharp turns or hard braking when driving on wet surfaces. Don't just brake by pressing the brake pedal. Help your car with engine braking.
  • Stay in the lane: Avoid driving in the outer lanes, where water tends to accumulate, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles to react in time to an unexpected situation.
  • Regularly check the brakes: Regular maintenance and checks ensure that your vehicle's braking system is in good working order.
  • Choose quality tires: Quality tires with good water drainage capabilities are an investment in safety, as they can reduce, among other things, the risk of aquaplaning.

What to do if you experience aquaplaning

Aquaplaning of two vehicles

If you find yourself in a situation where your car beings to aquaplane, these tips will help you regain control of the steering. Please note that you perform all actions at your own risk. It is easier said than done since knowing how to react in such a situation appropriately is difficult.

  • Stay calm: Keep a clear head and avoid panic because panic can lead to an inappropriate reaction (for example, turning the steering wheel sharply) and, thus, an even greater loss of control.
  • Release the accelerator pedal: Gradually release the accelerator pedal so the vehicle can slow down naturally without braking.
  • Keep the steering wheel straight: Keep a straight steering position and avoid sudden steering wheel turns. Even if you find yourself in a corner, turn the steering wheel gently, as a too-hasty reaction in this situation could cause an oversteer skid.
  • Wait until you gain traction: The tires regain contact with the road surface as the vehicle slows down. When you feel traction has returned, apply the brakes gently if necessary.
  • Regain control: When you regain control of the vehicle, continue to drive cautiously and slow down for at least a moment to calm down. Stop for a coffee at the nearest gas station and cool your head.

Frequently asked questions about aquaplaning

Q: Can aquaplaning occur on any type of road?

Answer: Aquaplaning can occur on any type of road where water can accumulate, including highways, expressways, and urban or rural roads.

Question: How does the weight of the vehicle affect aquaplaning?

Answer: Heavier vehicles generally have a lower risk of aquaplaning because the greater weight helps maintain better tire contact with the road. However, the difference in risk is not so significant. Even if you are sitting in a heavy car, following the tips above is good to eliminate the risk of aquaplaning.

Q: Can I get aquaplaning with a four-wheel drive car?

Answer: Yes, regardless of the drive, even on four-wheel drive vehicles, you can experience aquaplaning. Distributing power to all four wheels may provide better traction under certain conditions, but it does not eliminate the risk of aquaplaning when driving on wet surfaces.


Aquaplaning is a dangerous phenomenon that poses a significant risk to motorists. Knowing the causes of aquaplaning and how to avoid it will pay off. If you find yourself in a situation where your vehicle starts to aquaplane, remember to stay calm, let off the throttle, and wait for your car to regain traction.