Home » Car Questions » Can you Hydroplane on Ice?

Can you Hydroplane on Ice?

Most of us who frequently drive on wet and slippery roads have experienced hydroplaning at least once. Consequently, many people have developed a safety reflex and tend to get careful as soon as it begins to rain. However, it is important to realize that it is not just rain that you need to look out for. YES – you can also hydroplane on ice. 

Hydroplaning is a dangerous phenomenon that resembles skidding to a great extent. It occurs when a film of water interrupts the contact between the tire and the surface. In simpler words, the tire no longer touches the ground, but is entirely on the mercy of the water. As a result, the grip is lost and the driver has no control over the vehicle. Naturally, there are chances of swerving and inability to stop when brakes are applied. And yes, it feels as terrifying as it sounds. Hydroplaning is not something that springs out due to a specific fault, but is rather an occurrence largely due to the external conditions. Nonetheless, various factors can precipitate it, as well as affect its intensity.

Why do tires hydroplane on ice?

Hydroplaning on ice is more or less similar to that during rain, and requires the same amount of careful handling. At certain temperatures, ice begins to turn into water and can end up as a layer between your tire and the road, effectively causing hydroplaning. However, a more attention seeking factor is “black ice”. This is a thin layer of ice formed on roads when the temperature begins to fall. What makes it dangerous is the fact that it is almost entirely invisible, and most often you cannot tell it from the road. As it is a newly formed, thin layer, it has a great tendency to melt and become liquid on even the slightest temperature rise – even by the heat generated by exhausts of the car ahead. This can cause loss of grip, increasing the chances of hydroplaning exponentially. Black ice is a major hazard when driving on highways in low temperatures, requiring careful handling.

How can you prevent hydroplaning?

Sometimes, hydroplaning is inevitable and you cannot avoid it. However, there are certain factors that can help in preventing it. Better safe than sorry, right?

1. Tires:

Tires are perhaps the most important contributors to hydroplaning. Under- or over-inflated tires, unbalanced and improperly sized tires can greatly amplify the risk of hydroplaning. Moreover, what kind of tires you use also matters a lot. These days, many tires have deep grooves and specialized channels that evacuate water from the tread in the opposite direction, thus clearing it. This helps in minimizing the chances of hydroplaning.

2. Speed:

Most instances of hydroplaning are reported at speeds higher than 35 mph. Driving at high speeds means that the tread does not have sufficient time to clear off the water, causing it to accumulate and cause slipping. Hence, it is recommended to keep the speed of the vehicle at minimum when there are chances of hydroplaning. The advised speed is 5 to 10 mph lower than the speed limit.

3. Cruise Control:

The cruise control can have drastic effects when hydroplaning is encountered. Whenever hydroplaning is expected, it is imperative to turn off your cruise control, as it can make the tire spin unwantedly and make matters worse. You want to decrease the power exerted by your tires, not increase it.

Which tires can prevent hydroplaning on ice?

We found these two tires to be absolutely awesome over ice, and will greatly help you in preventing hydroplaning and keeping you safe.

1. Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Winter/Snow Passenger Tire 215/55R17 94 H

Unparalleled stability on ice along with impeccable durability…

This tire has been fitted with a plethora of features that are meant to prevent slipping on ice, and guarantee a safe ride. It has two deep circumferential grooves that get rid of water and make sure that the contact between the tire and the ground remains uninterrupted. Moreover, it also has bite particles that dig right through the ice or snow, into the ground. This amazing feature imparts an uncompromised grip to the tire, that is maintained even when there is ice. So the chances of any effective hydroplaning are negligible. Like all good ice tires, this tire by Bridgestone is manufactured using specialized winter tread compound that is optimized for providing stability on ice. It is soft, and does not get stiff on encountering cold temperatures. This allows the tire to adjust and conform to the ground, making sure that the possibility of slipping is minimized. As a result of these tremendous features, the driver is provided with a great amount of control. The braking and cornering is surprisingly easy and overall handling is uncomplicated. However, no warranty is offered with this tire.

Pros:

  • Unparalleled stability
  • Confident grip
  • Minimal chances of hydroplaning
  • Easy to handle and control

Cons:

  • Does not come with a warranty

2. Firestone Winterforce 2 UV Winter/Snow SUV Tire 265/70R17 115 S

For the best control of SUVs on ice…

If you are the owner of an SUV, this tire is your best bet in the battle against hydroplaning. It has full depth grooves and open shoulder slots, along with wide voids between tread blocks. These features allow slush or water to be easily directed away from the direction of motion of the tire. This means that the area of contact between the tire and ground is constantly cleared of water. Therefore, the grip of the tire is maintained and you are more or less out of danger. Furthermore, the tread is made of a compound that is highly compatible with cold weather. It sticks to the ground and makes sure that the contact patch expands as much as possible in times of need. It is pinned for studs as well, making this tire a wise choice. However, you need to be vigilant while balancing it, as this might be tricky.

Pros:

  • Can resist hydroplaning
  • Stable and steady
  • Uncompromised grip on both ice and snow
  • Pinned for studs
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Balancing might be challenging

If you’re wondering if these winter tires will be good in rain, read our complete article on the subject: Are winter tires good in rain?