Internet and mail-order tire retailer Tire Rack has added a hydroplaning resistance area to the test track at its South Bend headquarters.
The new area is designed to allow a test vehicle's left-side tires to run across damp pavement while right-side tires run through a pool of water at a controlled depth, Tire Rack said, allowing its engineers to identify the speed at which the tire in the pool begins to hydroplane.
While all tires will hydroplane with some combination of water depth, speed and vehicle weight, Tire Rack said, great tread designs resist hydroplaning until run at higher speeds better than less-efficient designs.
The addition was made during an overall repaving of the eight-acre test track, which Tire Rack has operated since opening the South Bend headquarters in 2001.
That project also allowed the firm to lengthen and reconfigure the test course used in dry and wet conditions, the company said in a recent email to customers.
Tire Rack did not say what it invested in the improvements.
Each year Tire Rack said it carries out at least 10 comprehensive tire tests, typically involving at least 40 different tire models. The track features a sprinkler system to allow for wet road conditions, as well.
The track is dedicated to testing during the week and is used on weekends for Tire Rack Street Survival teen driving schools or car club autocross competition.