Here’s how to safely drive through floodwater without wrecking your car

AS Storm Barra strikes, floods have caused further headaches for motorists across the UK.

The government has issued 50 flood alerts as ice and rain cover roads nationwide, with potential flooding threatening to strand thousands in their vehicles.

 You shouldn't tackle water deeper than four inches


You shouldn’t tackle water deeper than four inchesCredit: PA:Press Association

Many drivers may think being in a car is a safe bet during a storm, but in fact a third of flood-related deaths are in vehicles.

Driving through floodwater can do irreparable damage to your motor.

Water can destroy engines, with as little as an egg cupful enough to wipe it out for good.

And while door seals are tested to withstand a deluge, getting water in through the underneath can wreck electrics and even cause airbags to go off suddenly at a later date.

The AA rescues almost 10,000 cars a year that have driven through or were stuck in floodwater with an estimated insurance bill of £34million.

So what can you do to avoid being stranded and running up repair bills worth thousands of pounds?

Avoid the flood

First of all, if you know there’s going to be flooding in your area it’s advisable to move your car to higher ground to protect it.

Just 60cm of standing water will float your car and only 30cm of flowing water could be enough to move your car.

 Drive slowly - no more than 4mph - to avoid flooding the engine


Drive slowly – no more than 4mph – to avoid flooding the engineCredit: Getty – Contributor

Check the depth

If you encounter localised flooding on your journey don’t just plough on through – even if you think you’re fine in a big 4×4.

If there’s no way around it, consider how deep the water is.

You can test it yourself if you don’t mind getting wet or judge it based on the surrounding environment and if other cars are attempting to cross it.

Don’t drive into flood water that’s moving or more than 10cm (4 inches) deep and let approaching cars pass first.

Slow down

If you’re out in your car and battling back to dry weather then it’s important to take care as stopping distances are shortened in wet conditions.

And driving through floodwater isn’t something that should be done in a hurry.

You should enter the water slowly (about 1-2mph in first gear), before accelerating to about 3-4mph keeping revs up but not changing gear.

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This creates a tiny bow wave in front which will stop the water flooding back into the engine. If you go too fast, the bow wave will be too big and water will wash back into your engine.

If the water isn’t that deep don’t charge through either. It’s inconsiderate and illegal to soak pedestrians and can cause you to aquaplane and lose control.

Test your brakes

After driving through a flooded section always test your brakes immediately. You might need to dry them off by braking lightly while driving slowly for a period of time.

 A tiny amount of water is enough to wreck your car


A tiny amount of water is enough to wreck your carCredit: Alamy

Watch out for manhole covers and kerbs

Water will hide a whole host of potential pitfalls in the road.

The chances are the water will be packed with dirt and leaves so check nothing on your car has been blocked after.

And watch out for manhole covers and kerbstones – these can cause your car to lurch out of control. Sticking to the crown of the road – the highest part – is the best tactic.

Don’t panic

If you do get stuck in flood water, it’s usually best to wait in the car and call for help rather than try to get out.

Hopping out and lifting the bonnet is ill-advised as if it’s still raining you’ll just be letting water get at the electrics and engine.

​Footage from ​British backpackers ​who were rescued from ​rising floodwaters in Australia


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