Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show


I have a 2007 Honda Civic, original tires, 29,000 miles. Just recent car is hydoplaning on wet roads, no standing water though. Tires do not appear worn. No warning lights either but car is definitely floating. Any suggestions?

Assuming that the tires are correctly inflated, the only logical solution is to buy new tires. There is a considerable variation among tire brands and models in terms of factors like resistance to hydroplaning, winter traction, road noise, etc.

Then, factor in the decrease in performance that inevitably takes place as the tread wears.
Yes, I know that you said that the tires do not appear to be worn, but in reality, they have experienced tread wear in 29,000 miles, and this wear has reduced what might have been marginal hydroplaning resistance when the tires were new.

I suggest that you go to in order to see what brands and models of tires are available for your car, and how they compare in terms of resistance to hydroplaning. You may even see your present model of tire and can thus compare the performance of those tires with the others available.

Trust me–you will see a considerable difference from one model to another. Then, make a decision as to what tires to buy–whether you buy them from Tire Rack or from a local retailer.

There is nothing more fundamental to your safety than the performance of your tires and your brakes. When either of these systems is no longer performing properly, it is time for replacement or repair, and it appears that the time has come for you to replace those tires.

Have you considered slowing down to a safe speed when driving on wet roads?

Yes, that is a good suggestion too. But, it is still likely that the OP needs to replace those tires.

In your post you said “no standing water”. By definition you need standing water to induce hydroplaning. Perhaps you encountered some road that still had a light film of oil on it from a light rain that had not yet washed off the oil.

As for hydroplaning; tire tread depth, tread design, tire width, and speed are all significant factors in hydroplaning.

Your tires at 29,000 are worn compared to new. They may still pass inspection, but not by too much. My Civic ('03 with Firestone OEM tires) only got 24,000 before the tires were toast. Get new tires.

If you Civic has wider performance tires they may hydroplane at lower speeds than a narrower tire. To compensate go for a tread design that pumps away the water more efficiently. These are tires that usually only rotate in one direction and have a “rotation” arrow on the sidewall.

Next as soon you experience any hydroplaning you need to slow down. About 5 mph below that speed now is your maximum when roads have water on them.

Well, I’d argue that you can easily hydroplane on running water. It doesn’t need to be standing. Ever been in a monsoon?

But your points are excellent. And I think we’re all in agreement that the OP is due for a new set of tires.

I experienced a great deal of what I would call ‘skating’ with a set of goodyear wrangler at/s tires that I immediately took off the truck and put on BFG all-terrain t/a. On a negative cambered corner I’d driven many times before with Firestones, in cold, wet all day, conditions, The Goodyears would not grab the pavement and the car would skate out towards the on-coming lane. Had to slow to a near stop to safely make the corner.
On a car like this with tires this age, they may be only a highway style tread with not much space between, AND old. ‘salmond’ may simply be sliding or skating dut to the current lack of bite from his old tires.

Since this is enough of an issue to reach out to the chat boards for advice…and, youall have agreed…REPLACE THEM NOW.

If you want to drive at near the limit of wet-road adhesion, you will have to replace your tires every six months and choose a good “wet” tread design with lots of cuts, channels and sipes in the tread design. As your tires have worn, the sipes and all their gripping edges are the first tread feature to wear away, reducing wet-road traction. If maintaining high speeds on wet roads is important to you, than replace your tires. If money is a little tight, just slow down a little…

At 29K miles, the tires are worn, whether you can see it or not.

You have two choices:

Slow down considerably when there’s water on the road, or

Buy new tires.

What’s the current tread depth?

Those Wrangler AT/s have no traction. Mine sure don’t. I’ll know better next time.

A Hydroplaning Warning Light? How Much Does That Little Car Weigh?

You have hit on one of many reasons I stopped driving little, light-weight cars years ago. (I actually almost became accustomed to this.) What you need to do is replace the tires (prematurely) and slow down. You are driving too fast for conditions, in this case, 1/2 worn tires, standing water, and a car too light for traveling at speed. I’m afraid you’ll just have to write this off as one of the “trade-offs” that come with an “economy” car.

CSA–Isn’t it amazing how people like the OP have come to expect a warning light for every situation?

While it would probably be feasible for manufacturers to come up with that type of warning light, simply by utilizing a car’s sensors for the existing ABS and VSC systems, it is just something that seems to be unnecessary. If we had warning lights to tell us that a car was hydroplaning, we would have widespread attitudes like the OP’s that, if there is no warning light, then there is no reason to slow down during a rain storm!

I really don’t see why a light weight car, with proper tyres, would have any more problems with hydroplaning that a heavy car.

I drive a small car ('03 Civic) and I do experience hydroplaning, perhaps more with it than a heavier car. I theorize that tires on all cars have tended to get wider over the years. The tires on smaller cars in effect have gotten wider relative to their weight to a larger degree than bigger heavier cars (not including performance models). Larger tire contact patches relative to weight would make the tire lift off the road a bit sooner when there is standing water.

My '67 Mustang came with “Wide Oval” tires and that car hydroplaned much easier than my previous car a '61 full size Mercury Convertible with normal tires. It was in the Mustang that I learned what hydroplaning was all about. I also had an '87 Saab 900 Turbo that hydroplaned a lot, but I attribute that more to speed. At that time in my life I was pushing it a bit.

I don’t hold anything against a smaller car in respects to hydroplaning. Since the smaller lighter car has less bulk it is easier to control. So while I have experienced more incidents of hydroplaning in smaller cars I’ve owned they are not dramatic. The drive tire loses traction, you feel the slip and you back off a couple of mph. With larger cars when I have hydroplaned in them the steering wheel seems to buck, and the front end moves more either right or left. The overall feeling is much less secure and more “hair raising”. It is more like a boat hitting a big wave and you get tossed about.

It seems a lot of the expressways I drive on are worn and “dished out” leaving puddles of standing water where the tires of cars and trucks contact the road. When I see the water in two rivers with the island in the middle in front of me I slow down (I don’t remember ever hydroplaning in any car at 55 mph or below) and guide the car to keep the tires out of the “rivers” on the road.

Bombing along in any car, truck, SUV, at 80 mph is asking for side trip off the highway. Speed and road conditions are the greatest factors assuming you give yourself the advantage of good tread on your tires.

I agree with “UncleTurbo”…
As a sailor, planing (boat version of hydroplaning), I feel it’s a bigger problem with wider tires with respect to the size of the car. Boats depend upon wide, flat, smooth aft sections for planing. Wider tires with little tread for drainage would promote it as well I feel and need more attention. This is esp. true in a lighter car…like a lighter boat, is easier to plane.
Nothing like lots of sail on a light flat boat to get on top of the water quickly.

Completely agree, and as an after thought, whats to prevent hydroplaning from occurring one tire at a time?

Gravity. Consider The “Gravity” Of The Situation.

Picture the tracks of a mouse vs. a deer on soft ground, snow, or Civic vs. Detroit Iron on the Interstate at 70+ mph in the rain.


I agree with the previous posts. It sounds more like a slick wet road and worn tires.

As to the references to the wide tires, it’s called the “weight to tread ratio”. If high, your tires “bite” better, if low, they skid easier. I found this out with my '87 Mustang, the DPO (Dumb Previous Owner) had wide “cool” looking tires on it and the Nag would slide if a toad spit on the road. Thinner, "less than “cool” tires changed this a lot! Gas mileage improved too as I wasn’t pushing fat, air damming tires thru the wind!