Flash Floods, Standing Water & Driving

Four wheel drive crossing river

Driving through fast-moving water is clearly a bad idea, especially if you have a family car, a sedan or another vehicle with low ground clearance. But even vehicles with higher clearance like SUVs or pickup trucks should avoid driving through water. And it’s not only for the risk of your vehicle being carried off by a current.

Danger to Your Car

A combustion engine is not designed to function with water running freely through it. Water in the oil can cause your engine to freeze. The sudden “hydrolock” can cause irreversible damage to internal components and make your car impossible to drive.

Cars also have electrical systems. Wires that aren’t usually exposed to even small amounts of water can be submerged when someone drives through flash flood waters. This can cause extensive damage to your vehicle’s electrical system and cause the car to shut down. Being stranded in a vehicle that can’t move forward while you’re in the middle of flood waters is an extremely dangerous situation that no one should attempt.

Water can also interfere with the exhaust system, causing exhaust to back up and cause your engine to shut down or overheat.

Danger to You

Cars aren’t meant to be aquatic vehicles. Even a small amount of water on a road can cause hydroplaning, causing you to lose all control of your driving. And cars can float in as little as a foot of water, taking away your ability to steer or brake. In two feet of fast-flowing water, even cars as large as SUVs can float away, being pulled along by the current.

If your vehicle isn’t able to brake and you’re unable to steer, this could mean your vehicle will be pulled into deeper water. It could even capsize, putting you underwater and at serious risk of drowning and death.

Avoid driving through any body of water that isn’t a simple puddle. Even if the surface looks still, it may be much deeper than you can see by eye or have hidden currents that you won’t be able to avoid until it’s too late. Keep your car functional and yourself safe by staying out of the water!