With heavy rain causing flooding across parts of the world, how can you stay safe and avoid an expensive insurance claim?
While many cars will get through quite severe floods, there are a number of dangers. In addition to shorted-out electrics, there is a risk of the engine sucking in water which, being in-compressible, will smash connecting rods, pistons and even crankshafts. If the water is fast-moving, there is also a risk that the car could be carried off into deeper flood water with you inside.
So what should you do when you meet a flood?
First things first, you should try to avoid it and not drive through (captain obvious maybe, but some people just take the risk and think they’re fine. It’s not worth the cost).
Sometimes the flood water comes to you rather than the other way around or you have no alternative route available and you have to drive through it. When that happens, here are some precautions to take.
• You should make sure there is no more than six inches of standing water or four inches of moving water. Parking up and watching other cars and trucks negotiate the flood can be a good way of checking to see how deep it is. In particular look out for hidden dips and gullies where the water could suddenly get deeper.
• Stay on the crown of the road where possible and crawl through the water very slowly in first gear. Keep the engine revs up (by slipping the clutch if necessary) to avoid water entering the exhaust pipe. Also avoid the temptation to make a quick exit, as going at speed can push water into the engine.
• Avoid going too fast into even quite shallow puddles as that can lead to aquaplaning, where the front tyres will no longer steer the car and you lose control. It is also inconsiderate and illegal to soak pedestrians (I’m sure we’ve all been there on the giving and receiving end!)
• Do not drive into water where downed power lines have fallen as electric current can be conducted by water.
• When you emerge from the water, dry the brakes by using them gently, and if there were leaves in the water, check the radiator for blockages.
Which cars are best in water?
We’re always been asked and here’s our answer. These are our Top 5 picks for the best vehicles to traverse through flooded streets. Though we’re sure any of these vehicles are truly capable, we still suggest that you stay on the side of caution. Check out our Tips on how to cross a flooded street.
1. Land Rover Defender
The invincible, go-anywhere off-roader that’s in use by the British military among others. Finished the Rainforest Challenge multiple times in stock. Its reputation precedes it.
2. Ford Ranger
Best-in-class wading depth (800-mm), one-way valve to keep water out of the air intake, electronics mounted on top of the engine.
3. Hummer H1
Like the Land Rover Defender, but applied to the US army.
4. Mercedes G-Class
Gunther Holtorf (German traveler) is driving one around the world logging more than 800,000 kilometres and 200 countries in the process. Truly a world-tested car.
5. Toyota Fortuner
7 seater SUV based off the Toyota Hilux, which Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson proved is indestructible. And being a Toyota, you know it’s very practical.
With more rain on the horizon and potential flooding around the country, be sure to take note of these tips and the best cars for future reference if you live in a flooding prone area.