Spring is here! March came in like a lion and left like a lamb. Trees are in bloom, the air is crisp, and there’s that certain smell inviting your senses out of hibernation. It sure feels like you can let your guard down.
April showers might bring May flowers, but they also bring driving hazards. Prepare yourself with our best tips for driving in the rain.
Tip #1: Spring into car maintenance.
Before you put your car to the test, give it the keys it needs to succeed. Check your headlights, brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, high beams, tire pressure, tire tread, and windshield wipers to ensure that everything is in proper working order.
A spring maintenance check from the technicians at Tires Plus includes an inspection of all of these items. It can help you drive confidently, knowing your car is in great condition for driving in wet weather.
Tip #2: Turn on your headlights—it might be the law.
When it rains during the day, turn on your headlights. The reduced visibility that rain brings can create a dangerous situation on the road. Keeping your headlights on can help you see better and help other drivers see you. In some states (like Kansas, Tennessee, and Florida) you’re actually required to turn your headlights on when driving in heavy rain. Check headlight use laws in your state.
Tip #3: Slow down.
Drive considerably slower in the rain than you normally would. Slick streets mean less traction and reduced braking ability, even if you drive a 4WD SUV.
Tip #4: Use your windshield wipers.
No brainer, right? But some people forget to turn on their windshield wipers in light rain. Most windshield wipers are designed to clear moisture from the glass in any weather, from a light mist to a heavy downpour. Use them! And if they’re not doing their job, stop by for new TRICO® wiper blades.
Tip #5: Leave more space.
Give yourself plenty of stopping room on rainy days. Double or triple the amount of space you would normally leave between you and the car in front of you. Your brakes will likely respond more slowly in wet conditions. Approach intersections carefully, and avoid tailgating other cars. If someone is driving too closely behind you, let them pass.
Tip #6: Avoid hard or sudden braking.
Instead, start braking sooner than you would in dry conditions. Hard or sudden braking can cause you to lose traction and hydroplane.
Tip #7: Beware of standing water.
According to Crash Forensics, just 1/10″ of water could cause you to hydroplane for over 30 feet, even if you’re only going 50 miles per hour! Additionally, the nationally-vetted “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” road signals serve as a grim reminder of the risks of walking or driving into apparent “puddles.”
So, rather than breaking out a ruler to measure the depth of the downpour, play it safe when you see water on the road ahead. Safely change lanes and steer around standing water.
Tip #8: Know how to react to hydroplaning.
If your car does hydroplane in the rain, take your foot off the gas. Steer in the direction that the front of your car is going. Avoid braking suddenly or turning, even if it’s part of your route. And, most importantly, try to stay calm.
Worn tires can increase your chances of hydroplaning, which is why checking your tires is one of the first things we recommend. Tires with thin treads simply don’t have the traction that wet roads require. Our technicians might recommend Turanza QT tires for your ride if you go on a lot of long drives, hate road noise, and need grippy performance in all seasons, not just spring.
Tip #9: Don’t use cruise control.
Your vehicle may continue to accelerate when it loses traction if cruise control is on. Turn off cruise control so that you’re fully engaged with your pedals and the road conditions. Driving in the rain requires your full attention: your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your feet ready to brake.
Tip #10: Ventilate your car.
You may have noticed that your windows are way more likely to fog up when it’s raining outside. That’s because where there’s rain, there’s humidity. Use your car’s ventilation system to reduce the moisture level and keep your visibility clear.
If you’d like to get a second set of eyes on your rainy day ride, visit your local Tires Plus. We’ll provide you with our expert opinion on the state of your windshield wipers and tires to make sure you’re ready to take the road by storm!