Hydroplaning is basically when you lose control of the car you are driving, or supposedly supposed to be driving. It makes your wheels spin fast, and stops your car from gaining speed. It can happen anywhere there is water present, and even when you are driving slowly.
3 things to avoid a hydroplaning disaster
You can’t see it coming, but you should anticipate it.
- Legal tyres with good tread depth are lifesaving.
- Make no sudden steering adjustments and take both feet off the pedals.
- Do NOT engage cruise control in wet road conditions.
Driving through a shallow ford needs to be done carefully and brakes applied gently, immediately afterwards so as to dry them out. Flooded roads take the hazards to a whole new level. So why risk it? Heed the Environment agency warnings and make every effort to postpone your trip.
If you are faced with no alternative but to drive through a flood area, bear some things in mind;
- If the water level is such that you can’t walk through, then never try to take your car through either. Of course a flood may conceal holes and dips in the road. Or there may even, no longer be any road surface to drive on?
- Most modern passenger cars are only 18 centimetres above the ground. You can easily lose traction and possibly stall your engine when water is sucked into the exhaust or gets in through the air intake. If you don’t know where this is on your vehicle… DO NOT RISK IT!
- The middle of any road is the highest part and therefore floodwaters will be shallowest. Drive in the middle of the road.
- Make only one-way crossings. Passing cars in a flooded section of road is dangerous to both. Do not enter flood waters if there is an oncoming vehicle already in it.
- You cannot drive a floating car. Check the depth and do not enter flood waters if it is higher than 25 centimetres.
- As little as 25 cm’s of fast-flowing water can carry away most vehicles. Even 4 wheel drive vehicles can be borne away if the tyres float above the road surface.
A fantastic way to behave is to make sure that you do not go into water that is deeper than the hub part of your vehicles wheels. Also, make sure that you know where the air intake on your engine is located. When water enters the engine, it will stall. To restart it will require a total strip down and rebuild. Never try to start up a flooded engine. The plugs or injectors need to be taken out to blow the water out.
Drive your car in first or second gear, (L or 1 in an automatic). Drive steadily so as not to make an inundating ‘bow wave’. Revving the engine in neutral may well keep the exhaust dry and the engine running, if water gets onto electrical systems.
Automatics, should be in the lowest gear and press the accelerator constantly while using the brake to maintain a steady speed.