How to: drive through deep puddles
04 Jan 2013 at 13:22
Christmas might be over and the new year upon us but we’re still firmly in the depths of winter. That means adverse weather conditions, and with 2012 the second wettest year on record, plenty of potential puddles in 2013.
“Puddles” may conjure an image of a small drop, but some can develop into sizable bodies of water. As a result we’ve put together some top tips for driving through them:
Size up the puddle first – even if it means you have to stop your car and get out. If the water is muddy you might not be able to see the bottom and gauge its depth. Try and find a stick or an object to find the lowest point.
If it’s clearly too deep for your car, find another way to your destination. Modern vehicles’ door seals are good and keep water out, but this can make a car buoyant, meaning it could begin to float if the water gets to deep leaving you stranded. The wet stuff will eventually find its way in then…
If the puddle is shallow enough to drive through, try and spot any objects that may cause damage to your car’s wheels, tyres or suspension, potentially leaving you mid-puddle with a problem. This way you can pick a safe path across.
Once you’ve confirmed you can drive through the puddle and determined your route, keep your vehicle in a low gear (second is generally adequate) and engine revs up. This will help you maintain momentum when you travel through the puddle, creating a bow wave so you don’t get bogged down.
Once you exit the other side – and especially if the puddle is on the deep side – pause for a moment if you can to let any excess water drain away and flow back to where it came from.
If you can’t, be aware that grip levels on the road ahead will be diminished, as fluid from the puddle is dropped along the Tarmac by other cars.
It’s always worthwhile to gently brush your brake pedal on exit, creating some friction and therefore heat to evaporate off any excess moisture. Some luxury vehicles can sense when you’ve navigated a puddle and automatically do this for you, keeping braking performance as effective as possible.
Shallow puddles are not the most arduous obstacles to overcome, but it’s still important to remember that on the other side of a puddle grip levels could be lower. Adjust your speed to suit the depth of the water, too.
If your obstruction is deeper, take more time and care when crossing it. A few minutes planning could save you plenty of time – and money – in having your car repaired.
For other winter driving tips, read our 'Preparing your vehicle for winter driving' guide.