The recent bad weather has caused serious flooding on many UK roads. While, ideally, you wouldn’t drive your car in flooded conditions, in reality, sometimes you have to. The difference between getting through safely and getting stuck and damaging your car is often down to correct driving technique – so it’s important that you know what to do.
The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has released this advice for motorists, explaining exactly how to approach a flooded section of road:
- Don’t go in if the water’s obviously too deep or flowing too quickly: consider an alternative route.
- If you have to drive through water try to drive in the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is travelling in the opposite direction. Leave time and space for each other, so you don’t swamp other drivers.
- Drive only fast enough to create a small bow wave in front of the vehicle – driving at speed may be dangerous to other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run, put the car into first gear, keep the revs high and set off. Don’t go in if you can’t see a way out on the other side.
- Do not take your foot even slightly off the accelerator, as this will allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe. As you go through the water, slip the clutch if you can. After you come out, dry brakes gently before you need them – the best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds.
- At the other side, keep moving and continue to rev the engine to clear any water from the exhaust.
It’s worth emphasising the IAM’s point about keeping the revs up. This maintains a steady stream of exhaust gases blowing out of your exhaust and prevents water going up your exhaust. Water up your exhaust can lead to very expensive damage and should be avoided at all costs.
Similarly, you musn’t drive through water so deep that your car’s air intake is submerged – letting water into the air intake of your engine will probably destroy it (the engine). Most car’s air intakes are fairly high up – around bonnet height. If the water is that deep, you shouldn’t be driving into it anyway. However, some cars have lower level air intakes – do you know where yours is?