Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by AutoSlash Staff

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You’re cruising along on the highway, and a few raindrops start to fall. Suddenly, the drizzle has turned into a torrential downpour and your windshield wipers can’t keep up. This can be especially scary if you’re driving an unfamiliar rental car. What do you do? Here are key tips for driving in heavy rain.

Make sure your car is prepared for rain

One of the most important ways to stay safe in inclement weather conditions is to make sure your car is well-maintained. Rental car companies should do this as a matter of business, but it doesn’t hurt to self-check.

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When it comes to rain, you’ll want to check key features of your vehicle to make sure that it is prepared for thunderstorms and any pools of water that might form on the road. Make sure the car’s tires have adequate tread and pressure. Also, check that the windshield wipers and lights function well. In addition, ensure your car is equipped with an emergency kit, flashlight and jumper cables just in case something happens.

Slow down and pull over if needed

One of the most important tips for driving in the rain is to slow down. Heavy rain often severely limits visibility on the road, making it hard to see other cars or obstacles. If you find yourself in the middle of a sudden thunderstorm and can’t see the road in front of you, pull over. Choose a safe place and wait out the storm until the heavy rains pass and visibility improves.

Turn on your car’s normal headlights

Even in daylight, turning on your car’s headlights when it’s raining is important so that other cars can see you. But as Geico points out, you should not use your high-beam headlights during a storm. That’s because the light will reflect the rain back to you, making it even harder to see the road. Plus, these bright lights can blind other drivers who are also trying to see their way through the rain. So, absolutely use your lights during a storm — but just avoid the brightest setting.

Avoid losing control of your vehicle

One of the scariest things that can happen while you’re driving through the rain is a phenomenon called “hydroplaning.” This causes a driver to lose control of their vehicle when there is a lot of water on the road. This situation can happen when you pass through a large puddle or pothole filled with water, causing you to lose traction because your tires have lost contact with the pavement.

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So what should you do in this situation? According to a video from Nationwide, it’s important to ease off the brakes, and turn your steering wheel toward the direction your car is sliding in. Turning off cruise control in rainy conditions and making sure your tires are in good condition can help avoid hydroplaning.

Respect any flash flood warnings

While a bit of rain or quick thunderstorm doesn’t necessarily have to ruin your travel plans, it’s important to take any warnings about weather conditions seriously. If you hear a news or radio station reporting a flash flood watch or warning, consider avoiding the roads altogether until the rain passes. Flooding can occur quickly and without warning, so it’s best to avoid getting caught in a dire situation by waiting out the storm.