Driving in Heavy Rain

Advice for driving in heavy rain

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous. So here are some useful tips, some from the RAC to help you prepare for the wet weather…

Many rain related breakdowns are easily avoidable as they are often caused by people driving through deep standing water. While cars have improved significantly in technical terms in recent years, they are still not waterproof and will break down if they are driven through deep water. This can lead to catastrophic engine failure.

A flood related engine damage incident is typically caused by water being sucked into the engine. This causes the engine to lock up and can in turn damage important engine components, including piston connecting rods and valves. This inevitably means a new engine will have to be fitted and the owner may well have to foot the bill, unless they can prove to their insurer that it was not their actions that caused the damage.

Before setting off: Consider if your journey is essential or can it be delayed? Plan your journey in advance, take care to avoid areas prone to flooding, and factor in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion. Let relatives or friends know your intended route and expected time of arrival and where possible travel with others.

Check your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional. If both front and back blades are not up to scratch then get them replaced. Carry a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey (but don’t use it while driving).

On the road: Use dipped headlights so other drivers can see more easily. Don’t use your rear fog lights as these can mask your brakes lights and dazzle drives behind you. Reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front to account for greater stopping distances in the wet- remember to two second rule (use a stationary object such as a road sign or lamp post as a marker).

Look out for larger fast moving vehicles that create a lot of spray which reduces visibility. Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up to date with road closures flooding and forecasts. If you breakdown in torrential rain, keep the bonnet closed while waiting for help to arrive to avoid electrical systems getting soaked.

Driving too fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road. If your steering suddenly feels light you could be aquaplaning, to regain full grip ease off the accelerator, do not brake but allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again (as a general rule the more depth tread your tyres have the more water clearing ability). Driving fast through deep water can cause serious and expensive damage.

Be considerate to other road users and try not to spray pedestrians and cyclists as you drive through water.

Driving in flooded areas: Do not attempt to drive through water you are unsure of the depth – the kerb edge can be a good indicator. If you do go through, drive on the highest section of the road. Drive steadily and slowly so as not to create a bow wave in front of your vehicle and allow oncoming traffic to pass first – make sure you have a clear route ahead so you do not have to stop in standing water. Driving at speed may be dangerous to other vehicles and pedestrians and could cause a loss of control.

Never attempt to drive through fast flowing water – you could easily be swept away by what seems a relatively shallow amount of water. Test your brakes after leaving flood water. If your engine cuts out after driving through water, do not attempt to restart – instead call for assistance and have the vehicle professionally examined.

We hope there tips help, and we wish you all a safe Journey.