How driving through floods can damage your car, and here's how to do it safely

Arif · Oct 29, 2020 09:59 AM

How driving through floods can damage your car, and here's how to do it safely 01

Driving on a rainy day requires extra concentration. The roads are slippery and visibility is lower than usual. Rainy days also create unwanted puddles, which if they’re big enough, can be called floods.

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Even the mighty can fall

You might have seen some cars wading through water like it’s nothing. You are tempted to do it too, sometimes. After all, water doesn’t get into your engine, right? Well, it depends on how deep the water is, how fast you drive through it, and how well your engine bay is protected.

But as a general guide, AVOID driving through water at all costs. Why? There are several good reasons for that.

1. The transmission has a vent/breather

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Photo

Vents/breathers are essential to maintain pressure balance. Besides the gearbox, the engine and axles are also equipped with vents. 

Yes, the vent/breather is able to prevent dirt, dust, and moisture from entering the gearbox. However, if flood water levels exceed the position of the vent/breather, there is a chance of water getting into the transmission and mixing with the transmission fluid. Not a good thing.

2. Water is incompressible

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A blown engine due to water damage. Photo: Scotty Kilmer

The worst thing that can happen if you drive through a puddle/flood is to get water in the engine. Depending on what you decide to do after water enters the engine, you could either save the car or destroy it entirely.

If a lot of water gets into the combustion chamber, you basically have an incompressible fluid in a high compression mechanism. What will happen? You’ll break the engine in a dramatic fashion.

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If you turn the engine off as soon as you see you see signs of trouble, you have a better chance of saving the engine. Flood/puddle water is not the cleanest water out there and carries along withit sand and silt. Some major work will be needed to save your car.

3. Water and electronics do not mix

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Simple, right? We all know water and electronics don’t go well together. If you’re unfortunate enough to get water near essential electronic bits, it won’t be a fun experience.

4. The stink is not worth it

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Like we said, puddles and floods and are not clean. Besides sand and silt, the water is also contaminated with waste. Driving through floods can leave a very unpleasant smell in your car. It’s like wearing a pair of soggy shoes, but times ten.

Q: But what if I have no choice but to drive through a flood?

A: It is best voided, but if you must, here's a simple quide to help you in such situation.

Q: So how do you drive safely in heavy downpours?

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A: It’s simple, follow these simple guidelines:

1. Don’t make a splash. Splashes could potentially damage sensitive electronics or enter unwanted areas.

2. Keep your brakes dry. After clearing a puddle, use the brakes to dry the rotors gently.

3. Slow down. Go too fast and you will aquaplane – something not even AWD can save you from.

4. Avoid floods at all costs. The damage and the stink are not worth it.

Rain or shine, make it a point to drive safely and responsibly. Stay safe.
 

Arif

Writer

Previously an engineer in an automotive manufacturing company and a highway concessionaire. A part-time research student on biofuels and diesel engines. Obsessed with vehicle electrification and the future of transportation.

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