Car slides around on a wet freeway

For a while now (I’m embarrassed to admit how long), I have noticed that if I’m going faster than about 60 when it’s raining, my car slides around a little bit. Of course my tires are the prime suspect, but I’ve inspected them, and actually replaced them once, and they are not the source of the problem. I had my alignment checked out, and they claimed it was OK. What’s left?

Car/Make/Year would be a good start.

Brand and model of tire might be helpful. Different tires have different handling and road adhesion characteristics. What two tire brands and models have you used.?

You’re right, the tires are not the source of the problem. Speed is the source of the problem. The term “too fast for conditions” applies here. Different tires might produce a different result, but given enough water and enough speed, any tire will hydroplane.

Let me be clear, this is a recent phenomenon, and it’s not just a “too fast” issue. As I’m doing 50 mph in an effort to keep the car on the road, everybody else is passing me at 75 and 80. I used to be able to be that guy doing 75. There’s something happening now that ruins my traction.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what brand and model the tires were. I don’t buy anything special.

And it’s a 97 Honda Accord.

It might be time for an alignment so you can avoid plowing the water.

I want to send that guy from the Castrol commercial that wacks people with a dipstick on another mission, this time it would be to wack people for not posting complete information. It is easy to see how people that believe you can give good advice without the facts could be taken advantage of.

The brand and model of the tires should be stamped on the sidewall. How old are the tires and how many miles are on them?

By all means, stop wasting your time on me then.

For those of you who are actually trying to be helpful, I guess what I’m asking here is, other than bad tires or bad alignment, is there anything else that could cause what I’m describing, i.e. loss of grip on the road at high speeds and in wet conditions.

1 Like

My wife use to own a 96 Accord and NEVER had a problem in wet weather. However we always had GOOD tires on there. Not some off-brand tire.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what brand and model the tires were. I don’t buy anything special.

Kinda says it all doesn’t it.

First and foremost…TIRES…Second…with a car this old is suspension (shocks, ball joints, bushings).

Why are you ruling out bad tires or bad alignment?? These are the two most likely candidates.

Even though you are convinced that the tires can’t possibly be the problem, a lot of us are convinced that nothing else could possibly cause these symptoms. The fact that these symptoms have manifested themselves with two types of tires doesn’t rule that out.

I would look to worn shocks or struts. Sometimes they don’t give what we think of as traditional signs of wear. For example, the “bounce test” is kind of old school and only shows severe wear to the shocks or struts. If they are only slightly worn, they might not show symptoms that you would expect.

If the shocks or struts are fine, I would take another look at the tires. Consider spending some money on premium tires. My 98 Civic wears Goodyear Integrity tires, with which some people have experienced bad hydroplaning. However, that hasn’t been an issue for me, especially with the two deep water channels in the tread.

Tires are the most important factor in wet traction. The depth of tread needs to be good to allow the water a place to go. Tread design is important in moving the water from underneath the tire. All tires are not equal in wet conditions. Your tires may not be that old or that worn, but they may just be poor performers in wet conditions.

Alignment would have to be way off to make a big difference. You’d notice uneven tire wear. Check the tire treads from inside to outside. If the wear is not even get an alignment.

Under and overinflated tires can hurt traction in wet roads. Look up the proper tire pressures in your owners manual or on a sticker somewhere on the car, doorjam and fuel filler door are a couple of places to look. Buy a tire pressure guage and check the pressures yourself. Some qhickie lube places just fill all tires to the same pressure and that is often to high a pressure.

If your tires are about 1/2 worn and the correct pressures and alignment are not the issues then consider buying a new set of 4 tires.

There’s nothing I can think of, other than tires and alignment, that would contribute to hydroplaning. The car hasn’t had any accident damage, has it?

The most likely thing is the tires. The alignment would have to be pretty far off.

I’m driving a '97 Accord, and even though the tires still have tread deeper than the wear indicators it’s beginning to float around a bit when I hit a puddle or encounter water in the wheel ruts at highway speeds.

It didn’t do this when the tires were new, but they’re not new anymore. I know what’s causing it. The tires are worn (about 35K miles). Not worn out, but worn, and they can’t disperse the water like they could when new.

I suggest the problem is your tires, new or not. Some tires are much better in the rain than others.

Unless some gremlin is spreading oil on the road just in front of your car, this situation boils down to three–and only three–factors:

The tires (including the tread depth, the tread design and the inflation pressure)
Wheel alignment
Vehicle speed

There is a HUGE variation in overall quality and in wet road traction from one brand/model of tire to another. While “nothing special” is not very specific, I tend to doubt that these mystery tires are of the best quality, and therein likely lies the problem.

Additionally, since some shops are not particularly good about setting alignment precisely to the factory specifications, even though you were told that the alignment was “OK”, the possibility remains that the alignment is NOT “OK”, and it would probably be a good idea to have another shop check the alignment.

Until you buy better tires that resist hydroplaning, you will have to slow down. Even after you buy better tires, that is also a good idea, but right now it is crucial that you slow down until you buy new tires.

Under and overinflated tires can hurt traction in wet roads.

This is a very good point. Given the OP’s obvious limited mechanical knowledge I suspect he’s over inflated his tires. There are a good number of uninformed people out there who think they should inflate their tires to what is on the side-wall of tire…instead of what is printed in the manual or the drivers side door-jam. My wifes 96 Accord tire pressure was 32…I usually kept it at around 34 (a little over inflated is fine)…The max tire pressure on the tires we bought said 45.

I wonder what the maximum inflation pressures are on Nothing Special brand tires.


Personally, I would be very embarrassed to be asking a traction-related question without having any idea of what make and model of tire is mounted on the car. Is there anything more fundamental to traction than the tires?

I agree with VDCdriver as usual. Pick one of those 3. Or combination of those 3. Likely it’s the tires. Even if the tread is good, an aged tire that has hardened can really suffer some traction problems.

Just a comment along the same vein. While riding with my daughter one dark night several years ago during a torrential rainstorm on a divided 4-lane her Mitsubishi was skating around badly to the point I was nervous; very nervous.

I suggested she slow down a bit. So she gets mad at me and says she’s doing the speed limit which is 65 MPH.
My next suggestion was that maybe she should be doing 55, or 45, or…
This makes her even madder but she slows to 60.
Car continues to skate and she gets madder still when I said that during some conditions that 30 MPH might be the appropriate speed.

This argument continued for 8 miles, skating all the while, until we reached a gas station on the highway that was closed. I told her to pull over.
At that point I got out of the car and told her I was walking the last 12 miles to my house; torrential flooding rain, constant lightning, small hail, etc. be darned. It was safer.

So after tailing me for a 1/4 mile both she and my wife talked thoroughly soaked me back into the car and drove 30 MPH the rest of the way.

Tire rubber composition plays a big part along with the tread design. And you don’t know the operating atributes until you drive on them.( and that makes it a bit difficult to return them to swap for others.)

Therefor, once you know your tire’s qualities…YOU’RE DRIVING TOO FAST FOR THOSE TIRES.

example from experience ;
92 Explorer, driven two years on OE 'stones and know how they function. Firestone tire recall named a finite list of replacement brands. I chose the Goodyear wrangler at/s BUT on a negative camber corner I’ve driven numerous other cold rainy days on the way to the college, the goodyears skated horribly and dangerously like I’d never felt before. I tested the corner the next day to see if it was just a fluke of my over confidence with that odd corner and…zzzzzzz off they go, skating out of the corner. AND, pulling out of a stop sign, turning right, onto a 35mph street in the same cold rainy weather, the back end would skid out in a fish tail as though it were ice ! I really had to tiptoe ( egg shell ) the gas pedal with these tires like never before with the 'stones.
. Went back to the dealer and -still under the recall terms- took those goodyears off and put on BFGoodrich all-terrain TA.

  • NO SKATE - NO SKID - NO SLIDE - under the same conditions !

On my truck, the RIGHT TIRES mean more than the 4x4 for driveabilty.