Simple steps can help you make your car perform better in wet weather and help you stay safer on the road.
1. Schedule routine vehicle maintenance.
A big part of staying safe on wet roads is keeping your vehicle in proper working order. “Modern vehicles keep getting easier to maintain,” says Jarrett Kerrigan, general manager of AAA Auto Repair. “That’s great, of course. But it also gives us a greater opportunity to ignore them.”
Take nothing for granted, Kerrigan advises. Make sure you’re keeping pace with the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and bringing your car in to a trusted auto shop for bumper-to-bumper inspections.
2. Check tire treads and pressure.
As the only parts of your vehicle in constant contact with the road, tires have a major effect on ride, handling, and braking. To perform safely on wet roads, they need to have at least 4/32-inch of tread depth.
One simple way to check this is to insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head is not visible, your tires have at least 4/32-inch of tread. Conduct this test in multiple places around the tire as it may have worn unevenly. If your treads are worn beyond 4/32 inch, they are no longer safe for wet weather and need to be replaced.
Maintaining proper tire pressure is another important precaution. All vehicles manufactured after 2008 have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems that alert you when your tires are low (the symbol is a dashboard light showing an exclamation point framed by the walls of a tire). If the alert comes on, bring your car to a filling station as soon as it’s safely possible. However, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure they are in the proper range. And don't forget to check your spare tire, if your vehicle has one.