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Driving through floods

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Currently staying with rellies near Coupar Angus. Leaving (or planning to leave) today but the only way out is along a farm track with a hundred yard long puddle at least a foot deep. What advice would you give? Drive really slowly to minimise the bow wave? I assume the main risk is water in the engine’s air intake? What about water getting in the exhaust pipe? Should I switch to manual and hold it in 1st gear? Any other advice? The car is a Yeti, which makes it a bit higher off the ground than the average car, which is giving me some hope.

 Toby_W 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Having watched lots of clips on YouTube of ruffed ford

youtube.com/watch?v=afmWmKYVvlc&

I would suggest driving very slowly to keep a bow wave just ahead of the car and know the height of the intakes and the cars wade depth.

good luck.

Toby

P.S the above clip shows how not to, there are some amazing ones of little cars doing it just right.

 jkarran 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Work out where you can drain it and take a spade to the puddle?

That's pretty deep water to wade a nice car through, if you're even a little wrong on the depth you're going to be testing your door seals at best.

jk

Post edited at 10:05
 mondite 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Stick on some wellies and walk it first to check the depth.

Foot deep is getting to the risky point (know its the "wahey i am now in  boat" for mine) so I would be checking the height of the yeti very carefully.

 henwardian 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I always go with extremely slow, first gear, balance on the clutch with very high revs.

You want 3000-4000 revs to give a good blast out of the exhaust and obviously going slowly stops the water getting to places you don't want it.

Measure your car though, if the flood is level or above the door sill then over 100 metres you are going to end up with water flowing into the foot area of your car, so probably not worth it.

Personally I can't see any reason why you'd want to risk it. If it's a medical emergency, get them to bring a helicopter and if it's a food emergency, slaughter a farm animal before you get too debilitated and weak.

1
 artif 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Walk it first, keep a decent bow wave and don't stop, exhaust only becomes a problem if you stall it.

First thing is to make sure your air filter intake is high up on the front of the car

 dunc56 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Another thing to consider is the rubber seals that protect the brake pistons. A few years ago, I was investigating brake problems and when I looked at the seals, a load of water came out - how the hell had it got in there ? During the floods in Sheffield I had waded through a deep puddle to get home. I presume the pressure has forced the water into the seals. The water then rusted the pistons ! 

 Lankyman 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Be very careful Rog! I drowned my Focus when the tidal Conder had covered the road near Glasson. I'd followed some 4x4 who got through OK but everything died just a few feet from safety. The garage told me there was wiring running below foot well level and the car was a write-off. It was strange watching the swans sail by but a bit worrying when a passing wagon lifted me with its bow wave. I have a tide app on my phone now.

In reply to Rog Wilko:

Most cars including probably all soft SUVs are not designed for water at a foot depth. I remember one 4x4 model years ago making great claims about it’s wading depth ability and it was only 20cm in the small print. Says it all really.

As it’s a farm track I guess it has potholes, stones, uneven surface, maybe undefined edges? With a flood it could well have debris unseen on the track under the water level.

Not worth the risk generally and far too high a risk if the water is flowing across or any direction really, the edges are undefined and not supported (banked), and you don’t know the surface of the track is solid and level and debris free.

You may well get through, though I have huge doubts as 100 yards is massive in terms of what could go wrong, but as a minimum you will have wet carpets. If your car is older water in places it’s not intended may well cause problems (cv joints, electrical components) if not immediately, some time after.

Don’t do it.

 Darkinbad 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Don't do it. Enjoy the company of your rellies.

Also, the farmer might be able to help.

Post edited at 11:22
 artif 22 Nov 2022
In reply to artif:

> Walk it first, keep a decent (as in smooth water, not so fast as to have breaking water) bow wave and don't stop, exhaust only becomes a problem if you stall it.

> First thing is to make sure your air filter intake is high up on the front of the car

Apparently Skoda recommend only water up to sill level.

In reply to Darkinbad:

Thanks guys, we risked it and are now south of the Forth. Phew! The problem with waiting is that the water is not going down any time soon. The Isla has overflowed all the bunds, and guess what? Now the Isla is 6 ft lower there are huge lochs stuck behind the bunds. It could literally be weeks before this puddle evaporates or soaks into the ground. It hasn’t changed at all while we’ve been there or maybe got a bit more extensive and deeper. Thanks for all the advice folks, most of it agreed with what I was thinking.  5mph, first gear, a nice little bow wave just visible looking over the bonnet. Inside of car dry and everything working.

 nikoid 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Another thing, some gearboxes have breathers which will let water in. Unless you've got something really agricultural I'd avoid it. Sometimes you don't have a choice though...

In reply to Rog Wilko:

Be careful, as many newer diesels have the air intake below the engine to suck in the cooler air, makes them more efficient compared to when it used to be higher up, the down side means they don't go through floods very well anymore.

 Toby_W 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Well done!!

I remember driving up to Eskdalemuir once and there were flood warning all across the county yet is was dry all the way.  About a km from my destination I came over a rise on the narrow land and all I saw ahead was water, completely panicked and fluffed changing down gears to increase my revs a bit which I think saved my car as the engine was not loaded and so was not sucking hard.  The water actually went over the roof and my wipers came on.  First things I was checking 5 min later at my destination was the air inlet height of a golf tdi!!

Cheers

Toby

 subtle 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Get the rellies to stand either side of the puddle, just in case.

Drive slowly, but gradually building up speed, then, a few feet before the puddle floor it.

If you make it to the other side great, if you don't then the rellies can dry themselves out by having to push you out - they can dry their feet off later.

(to stop water getting in the exhaust pipe stick a banana in it)

3
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Just feel the need to share my near miss:

On Sunday at nearly 3.00pm was heading towards Auchtermuchty in Fife. Sun was straight in my eyes, so driving 50mph max on a 60 stretch. Next thing I knew was what felt like a swimming pool of water launched into my windscreen with this huge thud. For what felt like ten seconds (probs less) I could see zero, kept a firm grip of the wheel, prayed I was travelling in a straight line and slowed down hoping I didn’t go head on into an oncoming car. I didn’t even have the sense to quickly put the wipers on. Genuinely felt 50:50 we would have a full on crash. What must have happened is the car/s on the other side hadn’t slowed down, hit the flood and covered me. I may have done the same to them. I never saw the flood, and judging by distance behind me, neither had the following cars, due to being blinded by the sun and the gleaming roads. Glad I was driving slower than normal in the first place, but will drive slower from now in in similar conditions. 

6
 montyjohn 22 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I was going to say remember to bind your brakes for a bit to dry them off, but you've probably arrived at your destination by now (not your final one of course).

 birdie num num 23 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on your starboard side as is safe and practicable.

In reply to Rog Wilko:

I have bitter experience of ruining the engine of a car 10 years ago. As said above, modern cars take cooler air from lower down to improve efficiency I was told. I sucked water from a flooded section of road (about cill deep) through ducts in the valance and bonnet into the air cleaner and engine. The garage said that, if you really have no choice other than to wade the car, crack open the bonnet so air is drawn directly from the engine bay rather than from lower down via ducts.

It was a £12k insurance claim for a new engine in my case (& I now have a car with a stated 30cm wading depth!)

In reply to blurty:

>  The garage said that, if you really have no choice other than to wade the car, crack open the bonnet so air is drawn directly from the engine bay rather than from lower down via ducts.

Trying to work out how that could make a difference.

In reply to FactorXXX:

I assume the garage meant opening the bonnet to remove/disconnect the end section of the air intake that goes down to the bumper level so that the air is drawn from higher up in the engine bay above the water and splash level?

 jimtitt 23 Nov 2022
In reply to blurty:

Twenty years ago we met up with some American climbers to climb in Greece (where I lived) and they followed us through a water splash on the way to the crag, maybe three inches deep. Well most of the way through. We pulled it out and checked it over, engine span over on the starter but nothing else rotated, the crankshaft was snapped clear through at the nose. 

It was a hire car so phone them up, all the usual send a mechanic etc etc despite me telling the lady I was one and the car was screwed. In the end she said tow truck would come from Athens and pick it up (three or four hours). The American guy got p#ssed off and said "go to your boss with my name and tell him to send a new car, now. Dump it where the old one is." End of conversation and we went climbing, came back and there was a nice stretch Merc S Class with driver waiting.

The US guy was in charge of arranging the transport for the officials and athletes for the Athens Olympics. The car was some Nissan garbage with a front air skirt designed to funnel water straight throught the stylish "brake cooling inlet" up into the engine.

In reply to blurty:

> I have bitter experience of ruining the engine of a car 10 years ago. As said above, modern cars take cooler air from lower down to improve efficiency I was told. I sucked water from a flooded section of road (about cill deep) through ducts in the valance and bonnet into the air cleaner and engine.

Wasn't a Renault by any chance? I killed an almost brand new hire car by driving it through a puddle that wouldn't have been a problem for an old Mini.

In reply to Rog Wilko:

Top tip if your car ever breaks down in a flood and you want to avoid wet feet. Stick it in 1st, foot off the clutch then turn the key and drive out on the starter. Done it before in my Lancia, however don't think it would work with our Volvo as it won't turn over without the clutch being pressed.

1
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

> I assume the garage meant opening the bonnet to remove/disconnect the end section of the air intake that goes down to the bumper level so that the air is drawn from higher up in the engine bay above the water and splash level?

Maybe I misread it, but I thought the implication was that simply opening the bonnet was enough to redirect the air intake without having to dismantle it.

In reply to blackmountainbiker:

> Top tip if your car ever breaks down in a flood and you want to avoid wet feet. Stick it in 1st, foot off the clutch then turn the key and drive out on the starter. Done it before in my Lancia, however don't think it would work with our Volvo as it won't turn over without the clutch being pressed.

You could be potentially making the problems worse as when the starter motor is turning the engine it is sucking in air and therefore water if the car is in the middle of a flooded road.

 CathS 23 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Having written off a VW Polo in a 'large puddle' in the Lake District about 10 years ago, I would say absolutely avoid driving through floodwater unless you have carefully checked its depth.   And be aware that the air intake on diesels is lower than petrol cars.   I tempted fate after seeing other cars driving through successfully.  

I would now rather wait it out until flood waters receded than risk another expensive and traumatic drowning of a car (and particularly my precious Yeti!).

Another consideration after a serious flood is that there may be debris (or even a blown-out road surface) under the water that you can't see.

Glad that you got out OK though!

Post edited at 23:55
 HardenClimber 23 Nov 2022
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Be really careful.if there is flow across the track...it is surprising how little you need for the car to start moving sideways...(30cm MAX).

Don't change gear.

Be certain the roadway is intact and there are no missing manhole covers etc.

Only one car at a time.

 Rampart 25 Nov 2022

Is all this eventually going to be a redundant concern once we all have electric cars? Obviously water and electricity aren't a winning combo, but presumably everything vital is sealed? 

 mondite 25 Nov 2022
In reply to Rampart:

> Is all this eventually going to be a redundant concern once we all have electric cars? Obviously water and electricity aren't a winning combo, but presumably everything vital is sealed? 

Hopefully the high voltage stuff would be safely sealed away but be questionable whether the rest of the electrics (lights and so forth) would be better protected by those in cars nowadays.

Plus if adequately sealed you run the risk of turning into a boat in deep enough water. Apparently more of a problem nowadays with better construction meaning the car is more watertight. I guess though electric cars are heavier on average due to the batteries so that might be less of an issue.

 jonny taylor 25 Nov 2022
In reply to Rampart:

The leaf is supposed to have a 700mm wading depth. Not sure I'd dare test it, but it does provide some reassurance in road-dip flooding.

 jkarran 25 Nov 2022
In reply to blurty:

> I have bitter experience of ruining the engine of a car 10 years ago. As said above, modern cars take cooler air from lower down to improve efficiency I was told. I sucked water from a flooded section of road (about cill deep) through ducts in the valance and bonnet into the air cleaner and engine. The garage said that, if you really have no choice other than to wade the car, crack open the bonnet so air is drawn directly from the engine bay rather than from lower down via ducts.

I'm not sure it's a case of lower being cooler, more that modern cars draw cool air through ducts from outside the engine bay (as opposed to from within it). Suitable openings in high pressure regions are around the nose of the car and the base of the windscreen, the former almost always winning out presumably for noise and packaging reasons. Usually the inlet duct sneaks over the radiators high up near the bonnet line so it's drawing cool air from in front of the rads. If you push a bow wave up the front of the car it'll get to one of those ducts.

As bonnet lines get lower and smoother to help with pedestrian safety and aero air inlet ducts get pushed lower and to the sides to get around the rad, there they feed from or may be directly coupled to holes lower in the bumper.

I'd guess opening the bonnet has two possible beneficial effects where the duct is high, over the rad. One, it makes you drive very very slowly because you can't see and your windscreen is about to get smashed. Two, any water briefly riding up the front of the car isn't scooped inward by the bonnet edge and doesn't slosh back down the bonnet when it runs out of momentum, it probably piles up a bit less where the intake tends to be.

jk

Post edited at 12:24

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