Winter Driving: Driving in Floods

By: James Ruppert
How to drive a car in a flood?

We can always hone our driving skills and make them better. One particular skill, is the ability to cope with floodwater. Many drivers make the mistake of driving straight into water and losing control, ending in disaster.

Be prepared. Don't be that person.

Here is the best way to act when water levels start to rise.

 

Flood Driving: Move your car

First of all watch the weather forecast. If there are flooding predictions for the area you either live in or are driving to, then it sounds obvious, but it would be best not to travel.

If you happen to be in a flooded area, when there are warnings it's best to move your car to a safe place. The highest ground possible is recommended, as far away from any water, such as the sea, rivers and lakes as you can. 

 

Flood Driving: Don't drive if you couldn't walk

Never drive through water that you could not walk through. The off road practice is to get out of your vehicle and check the water depth, ideally with a stick. If you would not walk, or wade through it, then it's best not to drive through it. This isn't just being cautious, but the problem is that floods will hide any serious dips and holes in the road.

Just six inches or fifteen centimes is enough to lap over the doors of a normal car and that's enough to lose control and suck water into the exhaust pipe, or even the air intake depending where it's located, which will stall and could ultimately damage the engine - leading to a costly repair. If the water reaches halfway up your wheels it's best not to proceed.

 

How to drive in flooding keep moving Keep moving if driving through water

Flood Driving: Keep in a low gear and keep moving

Avoid fast moving water. It's possible for some vehicles to float in as little as 30 centimeters of water.

Should you decide to negotiate a water-covered road, then drive in the middle, where the water will be shallower. Ideally, if there is lots of traffic, take it in turns to cross the flooded section from either direction. Do not be tempted to follow too closely behind other drivers. If they encounter a problem or drive into a hole you will be stranded.

Drive through flood water carefully and slowly in a low gear, 1 or 2 in a manual or locked in 1 or 2 in an automatic. If you drive too fast you could lose control, or even be carried away by a prevailing current. Be aware that your vehicle will create a bow wave, which could disturb nearby houses and even other cars.

When you get out of the water it's important to check your brakes and apply them several times to help them dry out.

The general rule is, when you're in a car, stay away from water.

 

Winter & Flood Driving - Further Reading

Avoid Buying A Flood Damaged Used Car

Winter Driving - Tips For Driving On Ice & Snow

Winter Driving - How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

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