So it is raining and the weather is totally unpredictable. South Africa enjoyed quite a bit of rain the last month or so and not all rain showers were expected. We have seen a few floods during the last few days and cars got swamped left right and centre. The problem with these floods is that it is often unforeseen and drivers have no time planning an exit or alternative route. Thus cars are pushed to get the drivers through often too deep water even if the car is not equipped for that.
Let’s first look at what most cars can handle in terms of deep water.
Most manufacturers recommend that cars don’t drive through water that is deeper than 10 cm’s. Some cars are water prove and can withstand a depth of up to 30 cm’s. When you drive a raised 4×4, the vehicle can probable handle deeper water especially if it has been fitted with a “snorkel” to keep water out of the air and other systems.
How (un)safe is it to travel through deep moving water?
The risk of water getting into the mechanism of the vehicle and severely damaging the motor, is quite high and that should be the first reason why you should avoid driving though deep waters.
The other risk is that a car can start floating in as little as 30 cm’s of water and if the water is moving at high speed, your car can drift off to an unsafe place. Imagine you are on a bridge and the water washes the car off the bridge into a river? Your life can be at stake and you don’t want to get stuck I a car in wild running water.
How to drive though deep water?
- Drive on the highest fragment of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
- Leave time and space to avoid engulfing other cars and pedestrians.
- Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by “slipping the clutch” (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water.
- If you can’t see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.
- In deep water never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe. Very important!!! Thus start slow and keep the speed consistent until you safely exit the water.
- Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.
What to do if your car stalls in water?
The answer is simple and one that should be respected at all times!
If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. Keep in mind that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the engine. If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground.
Now, if you drove though high water it is advisable that you IMMEDIATELY have your car checked out by an expert to eliminate all kinds of problems that can be expensive to fix if not attended to. Call us to book your car NOW: 012 804 9244
Floodwater facts – borrowed from www.theaa.com
- Most drowning deaths happen within only 3m of a safe point.
- Two thirds of those who die in flood-related accidents are good swimmers.
- A third (32%) of flood-related deaths are in vehicles.
- Cold water reduces your muscle strength – 20 minutes in water at 12C lowers muscle temperature from 37ºC to 27ºC, reducing strength by 30%.
- Just 15cm of fast-flowing water can knock you off your feet and be enough for you not to be able to regain your footing.
- It’s a challenge to stand in waist-deep water flowing at only 1m/s. By 1.8m/s (4mph) everyone is washed off their feet.
- If the speed of the flood water doubles, the force it exerts on you or your car goes up four times.
- Just 60cm of standing water will float your car.
- Just 30cm of flowing water could be enough to move your car.
- A mere egg cupful of water could be enough to wreck an engine.
- Flood water can be contaminated and carry diseases.
- Culverts (tunnels carrying water under a road) are dangerous when flooded – the siphon effect can drag in pets, children and even fully grown adults.