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Tips for driving in floods
With flood warnings in force again across large swathes of Britain, you might be wondering how to prepare for driving on flooded and wet roads. Read on for MSN Cars' top tips to help you cope with getting about in severely damp weather in safety.
Don’t assume that just because you have a 4×4 you’re immune from the dangers of getting caught out, either. Off-roaders may have extra height and more traction than normal cars, but if they’re not driven in the right way, they’re unlikely to be that much more able.
Instead, you should take precautions and make sure you’re prepared. Read on, for our top tips on how to drive in floods…
Plan your journey
Just like driving in snow or ice, preparation is key. Check the weather forecast to see if rain is likely to affect your journey – the Met Office and Highways Agency are excellent sources of information to check conditions both in the sky and on the roads.
Sticking to main roads where possible will also reduce your risk of meeting a difficult or impossible to negotiate body of water.
Braking distances double when the road is wet
If you can’t avoid certain routes however, ensure your car is best prepared for the conditions – that means clean headlights and windows, and tyres correctly inflated and above the legal 1.6mm tread depth. We’d recommend even more in serious conditions.
Make sure you keep people abreast of your plans, with rough departure and arrival times. Keeping a charged mobile phone in your vehicle to contact people in an emergency is a good idea too.
Alter your driving style
Braking distances double when the road is wet, so adjust your driving style to suit the conditions. By slowing down and increasing following distances, you give yourself more time to properly assess the conditions and to react to an event.
In very wet conditions your vehicle can aquaplane – where a film of water stops the tyre contacting the road – leaving you with reduced control over the car. Lift off the accelerator slowly and don’t brake or steer violently to help regain control.
Sudden steering, throttle and brake inputs will unsettle the car, and with reduced grip in the wet, jerky actions will increase your risk of having an accident – make gentle movements with all the controls to keep the car as stable as possible.
Remember, floodwater is usually deepest nearer the kerb, so try and stay in the centre of the road, keeping engine revs reasonably high and speed low – that way you’ll have better control over the car. Don’t drive into any water without knowing how deep it is.
What to do if you breakdown
If you do experience the worst-case scenario and your vehicle fails, stay with your car. Only abandon your vehicle if there’s no alternative.
Position your car out of harms way so it doesn’t obstruct traffic or risk causing an accident, if possible. Put your hazard lights on and erect a warning triangle in a sensible position if your vehicle carries one.
Let someone know where you are by calling for help – if you’re on a motorway, use the emergency telephones provided as it will help pinpoint your location.
Don’t put your bonnet up. Although it’s a recognised sign that you’ve broken down, wet electrics will mean you won’t be going anywhere fast.
Floodwaters can rise quickly, so make sure you’re properly prepared before setting out on any journey in rainy conditions. Drive sensibly and to the conditions and you should successfully reach your destination.
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About air intakes.... if you know your car has a low level air intake, get radical and temporarily remove the inlet pipe before the air filter if possible, to prevent damage. Old pug 306 and similar have the air filter a few inches above the road - silly. In this case, undo a clip anywhere before the air mass sensor, or before the turbo ...... ease the pipe off a little way, and use less than 1500 rpm.
Or get a Landy with a snorkel intake, good for about six foot or so......mind the crocs.
Driving in conditions where spray is being thrown up "No dipped headlights"
White water rafting, "No lifejacket being worn"
Driving whilst not being in control of your vehicle "Standing up looking out off the driver's window"
wading in water barefoot "No wellie boots being worn" Not to mention the inconsiderate motorist doing his/.her best to blind the guy
Far better to stay at home and be educated by MSN..
I would recommend 3mm at least on all 4 corners.
Think I'll stick with the 4x4 snorkel at the front and on the exhaust, so good for about 5-6 feet of water.
Best advice, find another route.
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