Tips for driving safely on waterlogged roads

Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post by Auto Advance.

Hopefully you and your property came through the recent flooding okay. Driving in wet weather can be a hazard at the best of times, but navigating waterlogged roads can risk damaging your car and putting you in danger. We’ve compiled some dos and don’ts from experts like the RAC, the AA and Green Flag to answer some of your worries.

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Is driving through deep water bad for your vehicle?

Yes – high water, or water that is being washed high by the speed and movement of other vehicles, can cause serious mechanical damage to your brakes, engine and electronics.

If water gets sucked up into the engine it can cause the engine to lock, damage the components inside, leaving you needing to pay for a new engine. If water overwhelms your engine it can mix with vehicle oil, can make the gears slip, and can cause immediate brake failure.  

Driving on flooded roads

When driving along waterlogged roads, think about your speed, space, distance, water depth and other vehicles, and any other factors you observe that might affect the situation. 

The dos:

  • Drive on the highest section of the road – usually the middle where the road’s camber is at its peak
  • Go slowly so you don’t create a bow wave, which can be hazardous to oncoming vehicles and pedestrians
  • Use a low gear so the engine revs are higher, to help prevent damage to your vehicle
  • Drive at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, so you have a clear view of the road ahead
  • See a clear route of the road ahead so you don’t have to stop, but allow oncoming traffic to pass you first

The don’ts:

  • Don’t drive through water if you’re unsure how deep it is – it might be difficult to turn back once you’re in it. A good indicator is the edge of the curb or a roadside wall
  • Don’t drive through water more than 10cm (4 inches) deep – car doors aren’t designed to keep water out
  • Don’t drive through fast-flowing water – the current can be stronger than it looks, and your car may get swept away
  • Don’t drive through water too fast – you might lose control of your vehicle, or be fined for being inconsiderate to other road users
  • If possible, don’t stop – it’s important your car is in the water for as little time as possible

After you exit the water

  • Once you exit the water, test your brakes immediately
  • If your car seems to be struggling a bit, find a safe place to pull in, and let your car engine run for about ten minutes – the heat from the engine will dry any wet components
  • If your vehicle stops after exiting a waterlogged road, don’t try and restart it as this can cause serious damage to the engine. Instead, call for assistance and have a professional examine the vehicle
  • If your car breaks down while in the water, call for assistance to have it safely towed out. 

It is a good idea to do more checks a day or so later, when the engine is cold, to make sure water hasn’t got into the oil. To do this, check the oil filter and look for a milky or mayonnaise-like substance. Signs of this will mean water has got inside and mixed with the oil. If this is the case, pop your car to a garage to have the engine flushed out.