Flooding chaos hits the UK – what should drivers be doing? Don’t get fined!

Flooding chaos hits the UK – what should drivers be doing? Don’t get fined!
Devastating floods have hit many areas of the UK in the last week, with several people losing their lives, mass damage to property and impossible driving conditions.

Although temperatures are in-line with what the country would expect this time of year, heavy rain and high winds have caused havoc – and the Met Office has warned that more weather warnings are on the way following an unseasonably mild period.

In fact, they described some areas of the UK as ‘impassable’ and urged drivers to ‘not take any unnecessary risks’.

That’s why we’ve put together some useful tips for what you should do in the event of mass flooding, to look after your vehicle and to remain safe on the roads.

My car has flooded – what should I do?

First of all, don’t turn on the engine until you know the extent of the damage. In some cases, the water may have caused damage to the engine and electronics, so avoid making the situation worse.

The next step is to contact your insurance company and describe the details. It is advisable to take pictures demonstrating the water line if it has flooded inside the vehicle to help with any potential claim.

Water could have flooded the engine, so it can take serious work to replace or fix the issue.

You should try and air out the vehicle as soon as possible. Open the windows, if you can push the car into a garage or under a car port, that could help with this process.

If the water level has reached the carpets but not the engine, then you may be in luck. Potentially, all it needs is a good cleaning and drying out.

Call a local garage and see if a mechanic can take a look as soon as possible.

How deep can I drive in water?

Just to be clear – driving on flooded roads is both dangerous and ill-advised. You could end up irreparably damaging your vehicle, getting stuck, or creating a situation where you endanger yourself and other road users.

As a general rule, do not drive in water deeper than 10cm. This can be increased to up to 30cm in some modern cars, larger SUVs, or off-road vehicles.

Driving in heavy rain is already challenging enough and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

If you’re approaching a puddle or small body of water, then there are some important things to remember.

When driving through the water, don’t increase your speed as you hit the water. Drive slow and steady and try not to disturb the water and create a wave. If possible, drive in the middle of the road, as the water should be at its shallowest at this point. Do not stop until you reach the other side of the flood water.

Should the depth be acceptable to drive through, then once you’re at the other side, pull over and let any water drain out before carrying on your journey. This is at your own risk, and isn’t advisable if you’re unsure about the road ahead.

Once you’ve pulled away again slowly, and gently tap your brakes to create some heat, which will help evaporate any excess water. This will help test the effectiveness of your brakes. Should they feel different, then visit a garage as soon as possible.

If possible, park your vehicle up before the water and check the depth. Don’t take the risk if it’s too deep or you can’t see what’s under the water. You will need to find an alternative route to get around the flooded road.

Once you are through, find a safe spot out of the weather conditions – if possible – and try and air out the vehicle. Open the doors, windows, and sunroof to help with this process. Use the car’s internal heating and remove your items from the vehicle.

RAC statistics show breakdown numbers increase significantly during periods of wet weather – so take extra care! In fact, the Environment Agency urges all drivers to stay away from floodwater.

Car flooding damage

If water gets into the engine in the event of a flood, there may be no saving it.

This type of damage is commonly known as ‘hydro-lock’.

When this happens, water enters the engine through the air intake system and causes internal damage to the engine and linking components.

Hydro-lock often occurs when drivers attempt to travel through flooded areas or when water has become trapped in the engine or electrics.

In modern vehicles, this means that many different systems in the car will be impacted by the water damage.

It could also lead to issues with the brakes, and other moving parts.

Water can get into the various fluids in the vehicle – never good, but most damaging when it enters the fuel tank.

When you get a chance out of the rain, check to see if your dipstick is still in its tube. If it is loose or the fluid is over the oil line, then you will likely have water damage.

Any water damage to your fluid systems will likely result in them having to be drained, fixed and/or replaced.

Long term damage can include rusting and internal mould in the vehicle by the bacteria left by the water that flooded the vehicle.

If you get stuck in flood water when in your vehicle – call 999.

Could I get fined for driving on a flooded road?

Yes! If you’re driving in heavy rain and flooding has occurred, then be wary that not only will you damage your vehicle – but you could end up with a fine and points on your licence.

Drivers could face a £5,000 fine for driving through a flooded road, where they lose control of the vehicle.

This is because it can put yourself and other road users in danger – and it can also lead to up to nine penalty points on your licence.

Aquaplaning when you can’t control the vehicle is also punishable with the same offence – so take care in wet weather conditions.

This can sometimes be caused by poor tyre tread. The police can issue a further fine of £2,500 for driving without due care. This can also be accompanied by three penalty points.

Have you been impacted by the recent floods? What advice would you give to those who have also suffered from the recent weather conditions?

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