Breakdown numbers always increase during periods of wet weather. Damp causes problems with engines and electrical systems and it is easy to flood your engine when driving through water, if done so incorrectly. If you must drive, here are a handful of steps you can take to reduce your chances of an accident or breakdown in wet weather.
How to prepare for driving in heavy rain:
Plan your journey in advance, taking care to avoid areas which are prone to flooding and factor in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion.
It’s always advisable to consider whether your journey is essential. If not, can it be delayed until after the rain has subsided?
It is also a good idea to let relatives and friends know your intended route and expected time of arrival and where possible, travel with others.
Before you go:
- Check that your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional. If both front and back blades are not up to scratch, get them replaced.
- Try to fill up with fuel before you travel, as getting stuck in traffic will increase your fuel consumption. Remember, with the lights, heater and wipers switched on, your fuel economy will be reduced even further!
- Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up-to-date with road closures, flooding and forecasts
- Carry a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey
- Check that your tyres are of the recommended legal tyre depth so you can be sure you have a safe amount of grip on the roads.
- Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily
- Don’t use rear fog lights. They can mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you
- Look out for large or fast-moving vehicles creating spray, which reduces visibility
- Also remember to keep your air conditioning on, as this will stop your windows from misting up
Top Tips for driving through water and floods:
- Size up the puddle first – even if it means you have to stop your car and get out (getting a bit wet is a lot better than being left stranded!) If the water is muddy you might not be able to see the bottom and gauge its depth. Try and find a stick or an object to find the lowest point.
- If it’s clearly too deep for your car, find another way to your destination. Modern vehicles’ door seals are good and keep water out, but this can make a car buoyant, meaning it could begin to float if the water gets to deep, leaving you stranded!
- If the puddle is shallow enough to drive through, try and spot any objects that may cause damage to your car’s wheels, tyres or suspension, potentially leaving you mid-puddle with a problem. This way you can pick a safe path across.
- Once you’ve confirmed you can drive through the puddle and determined your route, keep your vehicle in a low gear (second is generally adequate) and engine revs up. This will help you maintain momentum when you travel through the puddle, creating a bow wave so you don’t get bogged down.
- Once you exit the other side – and especially if the puddle is on the deep side – pause for a moment if you can to let any excess water drain away and flow back to where it came from.
- If you can’t, be aware that grip levels on the road ahead will be diminished, as fluid from the puddle is dropped along the tarmac by other cars.
- It’s always worthwhile to gently brush your brake pedal on exit, creating some friction to evaporate off any excess moisture. Some luxury vehicles can sense when you’ve navigated a puddle and automatically do this for you, keeping braking performance as effective as possible.
- Shallow puddles are not the most arduous obstacles to overcome, but it’s still important to remember that on the other side of a puddle grip levels could be lower. Adjust your speed to suit the depth of the water too.
- If the obstruction is deeper, take more time and care when crossing it. A few minutes planning could save you plenty of time – and money – in having your car repaired. And never attempt to drive through fast flowing water – you could easily get swept away!