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Advice is flooding in!

February 2014

Driving in heavy rain and through flooded areas is never easy; and this winter has caused more problems than usual as the continuous wet weather has been exacerbated by high winds and saturated land.

Both the AA and the RAC have reported increased number of call outs due to wet weather related problems, yet many of the breakdowns could have been avoided.

Generally it seems that cars drive too fast through standing water.  Cars may be better than they used to be but they are not waterproof!

Also remember, just because a diesel engine car ahead of you whizzes through the flood, this doesn’t mean it is safe for a petrol driven car when water could splash up and short circuit the ignition system.

Basic advice for anyone approaching a flooded area includes:

  • Even fairly small levels of surface water can cause problems. Hitting standing water fast can result in aquaplaning, when the tyres lose contact with the road. To get back in control, reduce speed quickly by taking your foot of the accelerator.

  • Check the depth of a flood yourself and be confident there is little likelihood of the flow of water having created holes or washaways in the road surface.

  • Be aware that fast flowing water even six inches deep can have surprising force. Water of a foot or more, if fast flowing, could move an average car.

  • Ensure your route has a good exit point beyond the flood. If you have to turn around further on, the flooded area you have already crossed may have risen to a dangerous level.

  • Do not enter a flooded area until the car in front of you has moved on. If it stalls, you don’t want to have to stop in flood water.

  • When driving through a flooded area, use a low gear so that the engine’s revs are higher; you don’t want water to enter the exhaust.

  • When going through a flood, always keep to the highest area, usually the centre of the road.
    Obviously have your lights on to warn any other drivers.

  • Do not attempt to go fast through flooded areas. A slow but steady speed is best. It is important not to create a bow wave in front of you as that can splash up under the engine. On many cars, the engine’s air intake is low down at the front and just a small amount of water can cause serious damage. If water enters the combustion chamber it can wreck an engine. Water can’t compress which means a piston hitting water can bend or break a con rod.

  • After you get through the flood, always test your brakes.

This year has seen a number of cars with engine damage due to flooding. Often the owner may have to pay for the damage because insurance companies may feel the damage was caused by the driver’s actions and not by an accident.

The good news is that with modern communications, and with local radio and tv issuing regular bulletins, most people have advanced warning of flooded areas.



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