Winter is coming – Part Two: Floods

With the inclement weather turning late summer into a windy and wet tempest, there are a lot of unpleasant road conditions hitting the UK highways.

One of the more dangerous of these is suddenly encountering flood water. Usually, a driver has no idea how deep it is, and if they are the only car in the vicinity, even entering it can be a risk. Even the most modern of cars risk damaging electrics and the engine if they are suddenly deluged from below.

Here is the best way of dealing with such a watery encounter:

Avoid It If Possible
Even turning your car around and finding another route could be the best option if the road is suddenly blocked by the results of a burst riverbank or extreme run off following a heavy downpour.

A few minutes extra on your journey is a better bet than being stuck until your roadside recovery team can arrive.

As a rough guide, six inches of standing water is OK for most vehicles, with four inches if it is moving. Make allowances depending on whether you set off in the Maserati or the Discovery on this particular journey.

If you have suitable footwear, it could be worth testing the depth with a quick paddle, or even (for the less brave among you) wait for a Knight in a Shining White 4×4 to test if for you.

Stick to the Middle of the Road
Roads have a natural bow to them, so the deepest water will be at the sides. Therefore, stick to the middle of the road if you do have no alternative but to press ahead.

Drive very slowly, in first gear and with high revs. This will help to keep your exhaust pipe from flooding. The temptation is to accelerate away as you pass the worst of the water, but avoid this, as the sudden spurt (even a little one) will push water up into your engine.

Take Care Whatever You Drive
Even big old 4x4s are at risk. Land Rover experts advise entering the water at about 1-2 mph, then accelerating up to 3 or 4 mph. This should create a bow wave in front your vehicle, offering a little extra protection.

This is when your tyres lose grip with the surface of the road. It can happen when driving through even a small puddle. You will lose the ability to steer, and will probably incur the wrath of pedestrians if you soak them through driving too quickly.

Other Drivers
Do be especially aware of other drivers, there is no underestimating the stupidity of some vehicle owners. Remember, you could well be in the middle of the road, and reluctant to swerve out of the way of a maniac

Once you are out the other side, check your brakes as soon as you can, and use them gently until the dry out. Also, if it was a wet Autumn flood, and full of leaves, check the radiator for any blockages.

Safe driving!