Dangers of Driving Through Deep Water

by Lori Straus

With spring melts and heavy rains happening throughout Ontario now, the time to adjust from winter driving to spring driving has come. That includes being mindful of floods. Driving through deep water, even if you think your car can make it, is best avoided because of the potential for damage to your vehicle. We’ll explain why and how in this blog post.

How Water Can Affect Your Engine

Engines aren’t designed to flush out water; they’re designed to combust gas to create motion. If water gets into your engine, it has nowhere to go. To add to the problem, water doesn’t compress, so when pistons move, water can cause components in your engine to bend or break. You could experience engine failure, and no one wants to pay for that repair.

How Water Can Enter Your Engine

Your car doesn’t need to be submerged halfway underwater before engine damage can occur. Most vehicles have a low air intake for the engine at the front that will allow water inside. However, a little water in your engine can cause a lot of damage. So even if the water on the road is only a few inches high, passing by several vehicles who are driving fast through the water and splashing and creating waves can send enough water into your engine to cause failure.

How Deep Is Too Deep?

Whereas you might enjoy walking six inches into a lake or river to cool off your feet and ankles, those six inches on a road should cause you to turn around. Twelve inches of flowing water can move your vehicle, and 24 inches of standing water can float your vehicle.

However, it’s not only your car you should be worried about. If you take the risk and drive through deep water, anything that stalls your car puts you and your passengers at risk, too. Then it’s humans against flowing water, and usually water wins.

Assume Water Is Contaminated                  

Like water backing up in your basement, that water flooding the road is not clean drinking water. A flood on city streets can contain dangerous bacteria from sewers and drains. Deep waters on rural roads can be contaminated with agricultural chemicals and animal waste. If you must wade through flooded water, do your best to keep it from entering your body.

Call for Help

Regardless of the situation, even if you gambled, began driving through deep water, and your vehicle has stalled, call for help. Cars and trucks are not boats. Perhaps one day, after self-driving vehicles have received government approval, vehicles that navigate our roads by flying above them will be invented. Until then, though, drive smartly and avoid flooded water if at all possible.