Driving in the Rain

Dear Tracy,
I am a new driver, and just bought my first car – a used Corolla that used to belong to my aunt. The car is in great shape but my dad says it needs new tires. I plan on getting them, after I get some money saved up again. In the meantime, whenever it rains my dad makes me drive my mom’s van instead of my own car! I don’t understand why rain makes a difference. When I asked him, he gave me a long, drawn out answer I didn’t understand. As usual, he went on and on and even ended up talking about boating! Can you explain it to me in a way I can understand?
–Tony P.

Dear Tony,
Congratulations on your first car! I know it probably feels like your dad is raining on your parade, but if you need new tires, he’s right to have you drive a different car when you know the roads will be wet. Worn-out tires are most dangerous during wet weather driving. Here is why: for tires to have traction in the rain, tires need to be able to channel the water away. The grooves in the tread of your tires are there to do just that. When the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch, tires can’t do the job. The best way to tell if your tires are too worn is to take a penny and put Abe’s head into one of the grooves of the tread. If part of his head is covered by the tread, they’re okay. If you can see all of Abe’s head, you need new tires.

When your dad was “talking about boating” was he by any chance telling you about “hydroplaning?” Even though it sounds like a kind of water sport, hydroplaning is something that happens when you drive in the rain, and it is an important thing to know about. Ask our service specialists for more information to keep you safe on the road.