9 Tips to Drive Safely Through Flooded Roads

The monsoon season is here to stay for a while and with that comes daily showers and heavy thunderstorms. Every monsoon season, we see bad cases of flood due to the non-stop heavy downpour almost all around Malaysia, from East Malaysia to the Klang Valley. So, what do you do if you have to drive through a flood? Also, what happens if your car is caught in the flood? 

Let’s look at what you can do when your car is faced with a flooded road.

Flooded Roads

How to Drive Through Flooded Roads (If Necessary)

If you are ever caught facing a flooded road, the first thing to do is check your map app on your phone to see if there are any other routes you can take to reach your destination without passing through the flood. 

A flooded road, especially with shallow waters might not seem dangerous but the water can actually hide various hazards that could damage your car. There could be floating debris from the drains, uncovered manholes, and contaminated water. Therefore, you should always avoid flooded roads if possible.

However, if that’s not possible, we have some driving tips to keep you safe.

1. Always Keep Your Car Running and Moving 

One thing you should never do is bring your car to a total stop during a flood. You should always keep your car moving slowly but at a constant, steady speed without accelerating too much.

Driving too fast might cause water to enter the vital parts of the car like through the intake and exhaust. This can be really dangerous as it can cause damage to your engine. You will also create a wave that will splash other road users. Remember to always drive in a lower gear, as anything beyond second gear can cause the car to stall.

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2. Drive along the Highest Point of the Road

Most roads slope down on either side to channel water into the drain when it rains. To avoid the deepest of the water, aim to drive in the middle of the road, where it’s usually the highest. If you’re driving on a narrow, single, or double-lane road, pay attention to oncoming cars as they might be driving down the middle as well.

3. Keep Your Distance from the Car in Front of You

As your brakes might be in constant contact with water, they may not work as well. Therefore, you should keep more distance between yourself and the car in front of you, at least twice as much space as usual. This will allow you to brake in time in case anything happens and also gives you more space to maneuver your car as necessary.

4. Continuously Rev the Engine

If you think the flood level is low enough to drive through, drive your car in first gear in a manual car or L in an automatic car. Keep a consistent, medium engine rpm (revolutions per minute) of around 1,500 to 2,000 while you drive. This revving will stop the water from entering the engine and prevent stalling or seizing of the engine. Once you’re out of a flooded road, don’t turn off your engine as water could still enter it. Instead, keep driving for at least a few minutes.

Driving through flood

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5. Do Not Restart Your Car if it Stops 

If your car is stalled in water, make sure not to restart your engine immediately. If you restart your car immediately, you may cause additional stress on the engine’s connecting rods, leading to them breaking apart. Restarting your engine can also cause water to leak into the electrical system, which may cause a fire.

6. Switch on Your Lights and Turn Off the Air Conditioning 

Driving your car in flood waters will give limited visibility. And turning on your headlights will not only help you see better while driving through water but also alert other cars around you of your presence. The lights might also help you guess how deep the water-logged roads are. After your lights are on, make sure to turn off the air conditioning system as the rising water level could quite easily damage the fan that sits in the engine compartment.

7. Avoid Moving Water

You might think it’s alright to drive through moving water especially if it’s shallow, but you should avoid it at all costs. Moving water, even when it’s shallow, can sweep your vehicle away as moving water can easily cancel the grip underneath your tires. Less than one foot of moving water can sweep your car away, while two feet of water can even float SUVs and pickup trucks.

This is very unpleasant but important for your safety; if you feel your wheels start to lose grip while driving through water, open your car door and let some water in. The extra weight from the water will keep you down and hopefully keep you from floating away. When you’ve restored traction, drive slowly out of the water.

8. Dry Your Brakes

Once you’re out of the water, don’t take off at speed. Instead, keep driving slowly and brake intermittently as you go. This will gradually dry your brakes and help you test them to ensure they’re still good. If you just speed off right out of a flood, you could risk losing control of your car due to wet brakes.

9. Do Not Panic

If your car is stuck in flood and can’t move, don’t panic, as it can prevent you from thinking of what to do next which can be really dangerous. Always remain calm and try your best to exit your car in a safe manner. The pressure of the water outside might prevent your doors from opening, so if this happens, try using force by pushing the door with both your legs. If that doesn’t work, you can use your headrest or something else to break one of the door’s windows to escape safely.

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What to do if Your Car is Submerged in Flood Water

If you have to leave your car in the flood and it gets submerged, chances are its electrical and engine components will suffer extensive damage and may require expensive repairs such as an engine overhaul. Here are the steps you should take to assess a flood-damaged car and repair it, if possible.

1. Check the Water Level 

The first thing you need to do if your car is submerged in flood water is to wait for the water to recede before checking the condition of your car. Flood water usually leaves traces of mud on the surface of your car, especially on the exterior. Checking this is important to assess the possibility of damage and determine whether the flood water has submerged the entire car and has entered the engine and other parts of the car.

mud in a car

2. Do Not Start Your Engine 

If a flood has submerged your entire car including the cabin and engine bay, never start your car’s engine because that can cause a short circuit. Major components such as engines and gear systems can be damaged by the water. All you need to do is to remove the battery of your car and call a mechanic or tow it to a workshop.

3. Check the Engine & Gearbox 

Once your car is at the workshop, check the engine and the gearbox. Start by checking the dipstick of your engine. If the fluid appears milky, diluted, or beige in color, it’s highly likely that your engine has been flooded. exceeds the maximum line, this means your engine has been flooded. You can also drain the engine and inspect the oil in a pan.

If your engine oil and gear oil have been mixed with water, flush them out and replace them with new fluids. You should flush it three to five times depending on your mechanic’s advice, as water that is mixed with engine oil or gear oil can affect the performance of your car.

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4. Flush the Fuel (If Needed)

If the fuel tank is positioned on the lower side of your car, it increases the probability of flood water entering the tank. You then should remove the fuel that has been mixed with water to avoid more serious damage to your engine. Do check with your mechanic on how this process should be done.

5. Remove and Dry the Components of Your Car 

Any removable components in the car such as the radio, mats, and seats should be removed and dried properly. Wash your car with a heavy jet, especially the engine and brakes. However, never spray water towards the air filter holes and lubricating oil lids. Additionally, clean the dirt on the interior of your car like the cushions to avoid any kind of nasty odor. 

Cleaning a flood-damaged car is a huge task and best left to the professionals. You can get advice from your workshop, professional car wash, or professional cushion cleaner to get this job done effectively.

We hope this article will be able to help you if you ever have to drive your car in flood waters. Do remember it’s always safer to leave your car if the flood starts to get worse as your life is much more important to us. If there is a need to drive in the rain, it would be best to check the map app on your phone such as Google Maps or Waze to determine if it’s safe to drive.

Choose CARSOME Certified for Peace of Mind

At CARSOME, we rule out flood damage from all our cars with our strict 175-point inspection. So you can rest assured that any CARSOME Certified car you buy is in good condition. Additionally, we professionally refurbish every car inside and out to ensure its safety, comfort, and looks are up to par. 

All CARSOME Certified cars also come with fixed prices with no hidden fees, a five-day money-back guarantee, and a one-year warranty for extra peace of mind.

Visit CARSOME or download our mobile app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store to find your dream car today!

This content was originally published on 08/03/2022. It has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.