Hydroplaning is a major concern for drivers, particularly during adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain. This phenomenon occurs when a car’s tires lose contact with the road due to a layer of water buildup, especially at high speeds, resulting in a loss of control over steering and braking.

Understanding which cars are more prone to hydroplaning can help you make educated choices when buying a vehicle. Regardless of what vehicle you drive, however, it’s important to learn safety precautions to take during or after heavy rain. If you’re hurt in a hydroplaning crash, a Michigan car crash lawyer from Fieger Law can help you identify who’s at fault and seek maximum compensation.

What is Hydroplaning and Why Does it Happen?

Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle’s tires drive through more water than they can scatter, so they briefly lose contact with the road. This loss of traction occurs due to the pressure of the water lifting the tire off the pavement’s surface, creating a thin layer of water between the tire and the road.

The absence of friction leads to a loss of control over steering, acceleration, and braking, making hydroplaning a potentially dangerous situation for drivers. Several factors contribute to hydroplaning, including:

  • Vehicle Speed: Higher speeds increase the likelihood of hydroplaning as the tires have less time to scatter water away.
  • Tire Tread Depth: Worn-out tires with insufficient tread depth are more prone to hydroplaning as they cannot effectively displace water from beneath them.
  • Road Conditions: Standing water on the road, especially in areas with poor drainage, increases the risk of hydroplaning.
  • Vehicle Weight and Design: Heavier vehicles may have more traction due to increased weight pressing down on the tires, while vehicle design can affect how water is channeled away from the tire.

When you’re injured in a hydroplaning accident through no fault of your own, you need experienced legal help. Our team at Fieger Law has over 100 years of experience in personal injury cases and can assist you in determining liability and filing a claim to compensate you for your damages.

What Types of Cars are More Likely to Hydroplane?

Not all vehicles are equally susceptible to hydroplaning. Body types, drivetrains, tires, and safety features contribute to a vehicle’s likelihood of slipping on the road. Here’s a closer look at which vehicles are more prone to hydroplaning so you can make safe driving choices:

Body Types

The ease at which a car might hydroplane can depend on the type of car. Vehicles with a higher build, like SUVs and trucks, are more likely to lift off the road when they hit water, making them slip more easily because their tires lose grip.

Lower cars, like sedans, stay closer to the road, which helps them keep a grip and reduces the chance of sliding on water.


A vehicle’s drivetrain, or the mechanism that delivers power from the engine to the wheels, may influence the likelihood of hydroplaning.  While no drivetrain can prevent sliding on standing water, it can affect the control you have if it happens.

  • Front-Wheel Drive (FWD): These vehicles often offer better control in wet conditions. The engine’s weight over the front wheels helps improve traction, giving you better handling when hydroplaning.
  • Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD): These vehicles might be more prone to losing control on wet roads. This is because they can have a powerful engine and a weight distribution that favors the rear, making them more susceptible to hydroplaning, especially when accelerating.
  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel Drive (4WD): These cars provide improved traction by distributing power to all four wheels. This can lead to better stability and control in slippery conditions, though it doesn’t eliminate the risk of hydroplaning.


Tires affect a vehicle’s hydroplaning risk. Properly inflated tires, with a recommended pressure of around 30 to 35 psi, allow for optimal contact with the road, reducing the likelihood of water buildup between the tire and the surface.

Tread depth also matters; worn tires with less than 2/32 of an inch tread can’t effectively channel water away, increasing hydroplaning chances. Maintaining tires with adequate tread and correct pressure can minimize your hydroplaning risk.

Safety Features

Modern vehicles with advanced safety features can improve control and stability when hydroplaning. Cars with the following technologies may be safer in wet conditions:

  • Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): This feature stops the wheels from locking up during braking so the driver can maintain better steering control; this is crucial when trying to avoid hydroplaning.
  • Traction Control: Reduces wheel spin during acceleration by automatically adjusting the power output to the wheels, helping maintain grip on slippery surfaces.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC): Detects and reduces loss of traction by automatically applying the brakes to individual wheels, helping the vehicle stay on its intended path.

No matter what type of car you have, a hydroplane accident can result in devastating consequences. Lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering caused by another person’s negligence on the road mean you deserve compensation.

Our car crash lawyers at Fieger Law can investigate your case and determine who is responsible, whether that’s another driver or a manufacturer of faulty tires or safety features. We can gather evidence to help you file a winning claim and get a fair settlement for your injuries.

Get Legal Representation After a Hydroplane Collision

In the unfortunate event of a hydroplaning-related accident, our legal professionals at Fieger Law can help you pursue compensation. We have a network of accident reconstructionist experts who can determine the cause of the crash and testify on your behalf for maximum damages.

We’ve won millions in compensation for injury victims in Michigan and throughout the U.S. Contact us today for a free consultation and start your claim.