Top 7 Tips for Driving in Heavy Rain
While springtime is most famous for rain showers, you can run into heavy rain any time of the year. But, while you can find rain showers in the fall, winter and spring, summertime can often bring some of the heaviest downpours. So preparing for wet driving conditions before your next summer road trip is especially vital, as the weather can often turn on a dime.
Even if you know that heavy rain is expected, knowing what to look out for and how to respond to different possibilities is essential to staying safe, no matter how skilled of a driver you are. You also must remember that you may be driving through heavy rain with other cars on the road or in an area with pedestrians who are out braving the weather.
What to Remember When Driving in Heavy Rain
Like with anything, you’re bound to hear various tips and tricks when it comes to driving in the rain. But while some can be helpful, it’s best to stick with some essential safety tips that you can count on to help you stay safe when driving in heavy rain.
Let Go of the Gas When Hydroplaning
First and foremost, the number one thing to remember when driving in the rain is the risk of hydroplaning, which happens when your car’s tires begin to lose traction due to water on the roadway, and thus you lose control of your vehicle. This can be a scary experience, and if you’re not prepared, it can be hazardous and lead to a car accident. But while it’s easy to panic or overreact if you hydroplane, remaining calm is vital.
So while it might be tempting to slam on your brakes or yank on the wheel, the best thing to do when you begin to hydroplane is to carefully take your foot off the gas pedal to slow down. Then turn your steering wheel in the direction of the hydroplane to align your tires with the direction you’re moving to regain control and traction.
Watch Out for Standing Water
Even when the rain stops and you’re in areas with good drainage, standing water can occur on the roads in more worn areas than others. Even when it’s shallow, standing water can decrease traction and increase the risk of hydroplaning or skidding across the road. This puts not only you at risk but can also result in injury to other drivers or pedestrians nearby.
The best way to handle standing water is to avoid it when possible. This can mean changing lanes if it’s possible to do so safely or carefully steering around them. If you can’t avoid them, slow down and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Also, avoid hitting your brake pedal unnecessarily while driving through them, as the vehicle behind you may not have an adequate stopping distance in wet or rainy conditions.
Be Wary of Puddles
Similar to shallow, standing water, larger puddles and areas of deep water can also present a significant hazard, especially if the water is moving rapidly. The deeper the water, the greater the risk of hydroplaning, but that isn’t the only risk.
Puddles can hide potholes that can damage tires, wheels, and suspension. Splashing water can also make its way up to your engine compartments and cause damage or rust, and fast-moving water, such as being caught in a flash flood, can sweep your car off the road.
Keep an eye out for puddles and do your best to avoid them when possible. Don’t drive into the water if you can’t tell how deep it is; if you can’t see the markings on the road, find an alternative route. Know the roads that are low-lying or run through dry creeks and streams ahead of time, as these are the most likely to flood and have fast-moving water.
Ventilate Your Vehicle
Visibility is key to safe driving, and heavy rain can make it hard to see the road ahead. The increase in humidity brought on by the rain can make windows foggy. This can make it harder to see other cars, turns and curves in the road ahead, and other hazards.
Ventilating your car can help keep that humidity in check. Most cars have a setting on their ventilation systems specifically for defogging windows and windshields. If this can’t keep up with the humidity and your visibility decreases to where you can’t see through your windshield, pull over and wait for the weather to improve.
Check Your Vehicle’s Equipment
Maintaining your vehicle in good working order is important at any time, but having functional equipment is especially important during bad weather. Tires, headlights, taillights, windshield wipers, and brakes (even brake lights) are all essential to driving safely, so giving them a double-check now and then is a great thing to keep in mind. Even checking your car’s hazard lights and fog lights can help ensure everything is working as needed, just in case. Furthermore, fluid levels, including oil and coolant, should be periodically checked to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown in the rain.
You should also ensure your tires are properly inflated and have an adequate tire tread depth to ensure good traction on wet roads. Windshield wipers should have minimal wear to keep your windshield clear during heavy downpours. Good quality, functional breaks can help you easily stop when there are hazards, and headlights serve the dual purpose of letting you see what’s in front of you and making your vehicle visible to other drivers. However, avoid using your car’s high beams when it’s raining or foggy out, as this can cause glare which can impact other drivers on the road.
Avoid Using Cruise Control
Cruise control is a convenient way to maintain your speed on open highways on clear, sunny afternoons, but it can worsen a bad situation when road conditions are less than ideal. But why? Cruise control has an automatic acceleration feature that allows you to maintain a consistent speed. When the set speed is exceeded, it lets off the acceleration until you slow back down. And as long as cruise control is set, it continues to function this way no matter what the road looks like or if you’re dealing with dry, icy or wet conditions.
That means when there’s heavy rain, you need to be able to adapt quickly, including adjusting your speed to account for standing water, broken down cars on the side of the road, and other potential hazards. It’s also necessary to be able to easily slow down if you hydroplane or begin to skid across the water. So, while it can help you obey the speed limit on a clear, open road, using cruise control when it rains can be dangerous.
Wait For Better Weather, If Possible
If you’re not confident driving in the rain or severe weather, wait for the rain to clear to take any non-essential trips. On the other hand, if you know there’s going to be a rainstorm coming soon, try to get errands done before it hits your area.
While it isn’t always possible to avoid driving in heavy rain altogether, especially if you have family or other obligations, limiting the number of trips can keep you off potentially dangerous roads.
How Endurance Can Help in Any Weather
Practicing safe driving is vital in any weather, rain or shine, and can help you and others stay safe while on the road. But while safe driving can help you avoid a potential accident, it can’t help with unexpected mechanical breakdowns and other repairs. And if you have an older, used car outside its factory warranty coverage, you’d be on the hook for any repair bills you may face unless you have an extended warranty or vehicle service contract, like those offered by Endurance.
Like a car’s factory coverage, an Endurance auto protection plan can keep you and your vehicle safe from expensive repair bills for its most vital components, like the engine, transmission and more. But unlike most factory warranties, Endurance protection plans come with more than just breakdown protection, as you’ll be able to enjoy standard perks like trip interruption coverage, 24/7 roadside assistance and even rental car coverage. You can even take your car to any certified mechanic or repair shop of your choice. And for just a small activation fee, you can enjoy up to a full year of free Elite Benefits, including key fob replacements, collision discounts and more. Plus, you can access everything you need for your policy through the Endurance Mobile app, including checking the status of your claim, calling for roadside assistance and more.
Learn more about how Endurance can help you any time of the year by requesting a free, no-obligation quote or calling our award-winning customer care team at (800) 253-8203. Or, to find even more safe driving tips and other articles on topics ranging from DIY maintenance tips to vehicle buying guides, extended warranty comparisons and more, visit the Endurance blog.