People don’t always realise, but driving in heavy rain can present as many hazards as driving in snow and ice. Furthermore breakdowns are far more likely in wet weather, particularly in older vehicles.
Cars can become damp during periods of sustained wet weather, which leads to problems in the electrical systems and sometimes even engines. Of course in today’s busy working world, driving can often be essential in our everyday lives. If therefore you do have to drive, our advice will help reduce the chances of both accidents and breakdowns.
It may sound obvious but never drive through deep standing water. If water floods a vehicle it will cause major engine failure on the car. Unfortunately if this happens you will face huge repair bills that your insurer may not cover. Most insurance companies will refuse to pay for these repairs as of course it is your fault for driving through such deep water.
Breakdown will occur when water is sucked into the vehicles engine, essentially causing it to seize or lock up. Extensive work is then required as damage is often caused to the valves and or piston, which is very expensive to correct.
Before you set off on any journey during bad wet weather, read our following tips:
- Is your trip in the car essential? If not then try and wait until the rain stops and the waters subside.
- Plan ahead by leaving extra time for inevitable traffic. Avoid roads that are likely to flood and inform people you may be late due to the weather. If travelling in a rural or isolated area, tell friends and family about your journey.
- If possible avoid travelling alone and check the local radio or television for travel updates.
- Make sure both the front and back windscreen wipers are fully functional. Ideally get these replaced or repaired before the bad weather hits.
- Always keep the petrol or diesel topped up in case you become stuck in lengthy traffic jams.
- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged.
- Carry a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey
Once you’re out and about:
- Keep your headlights on the ‘dipped’ setting so that other road users can see you clearly.
- Never use rear fog lights. Even though visibility can be severely reduced, fog lights can dazzle other roads users and cause even more danger.
- Keep your speed down and leave extra space between you and the car in front. In the wet stopping distances can be greatly increased so keep back.
- Be wary of other cars causing excessive spray as this inevitably reduces visibility.
- Keep the radio on a local station, making sure you listen out for up to date travel information.
- If you do suffer a breakdown in the rain, keep your bonnet closed until help arrives. If you leave it open you run the risk damaging the exposed electrical systems of the car.
- Whilst driving through low standing water, be extremely cautious of aquaplaning. This will occur if you’re driving too fast and the steering will suddenly feel light compared to normal. Don’t panic if this happens, but lift off the accelerator immediately WITHOUT braking until you re gain control.
- Although you may find it tempting, do not drive through puddles to deliberalty soak cyclists or pedestrians. Firstly it’s rather cruel, but you could also damage your own car in the process.
Sometimes driving in a flooded area is completely unavoidable. If you find yourself stuck in this situation then follow our points below to help you get home safely:
- Always check the depth of any standing water before you attempt to drive through it. If you have no measuring device the kerbs are often a good indicator.
- If driving through water is the only option, attempt to drive on the highest point of the road, usually towards the middle but please note this isn’t always the case.
- Never race through the water as this will cause a wave that can rise up the car and ultimately damage your vehicle.
- Always wait for oncoming traffic to pass through the area first, allowing your route to be clear.
- If you’re in a line of traffic, be sure to keep a safe distance at all times.
- If you come across deep, fast flowing water in the road, never attempt to drive through it. Even heavy cars can get washed away.
- Gently and safely test your brakes after driving through flooded areas.
After driving through a particulary deep flood your engine may cut out. If it does do NOT attempt to start he car. This could ultimately cause more damage so instead call a local garage for help.