The monsoon has arrived earlier than usual in the Indian subcontinent this year. Unfortunately, our existing infrastructure does not improve, and as a result, many city roads become severely flooded during the monsoon season. This year is no exception. While we cannot force the authorities to upgrade the infrastructure, we can all be more careful when approaching flooded roads. Here are a few tips that will undoubtedly help.
Not judging the water level before entering
There may be times when you encounter water on your regular travel route and feel tempted to drive through the submerged road out of familiarity. While it may seem safe, you can never be entirely certain, as the rain could have damaged the road in places you are unaware of. It is particularly risky to get out of your vehicle and walk the road on an unknown route to assess the depth of the water ahead and determine if your car can proceed safely. Potential risks in this activity include coming into contact with highly contaminated sewage water that has overflowed from underground sewers or accidentally falling into a manhole due to displaced manhole covers caused by the water.
Make a splash
Of course, driving through stagnant water and experiencing high water splashes on either side of the car can be exhilarating during the monsoon season. However, let’s pause and think before taking this thrilling step. Firstly, stagnant water can exert immense force on the vehicle, causing the bumper to easily detach. The bigger concern is driving at high speeds through stagnant water with the engine running at a high RPM, as it can potentially hydro-lock the car. Hydro-locking occurs when water droplets enter the car’s intake system, leading to engine seizure. The best way to navigate a waterlogged road is to drive at a low gear and a high RPM, as lower RPM reduces the chances of water entering the exhaust.
Tailgating on waterlogged roads is much more dangerous than it may initially seem. When a vehicle moves ahead of you through water, it displaces the stagnant water, creating ripples that raise the water level by a few inches. Consequently, your estimation of successfully crossing behind the vehicle can result in water entering the air intake.
Following other vehicles
We cannot emphasize this point enough: it is never wise to venture onto unknown paths when it comes to waterlogged roads with your valuable car, even if you feel highly adventurous and confident. Observing other cars effortlessly passing through these roads may boost your confidence and tempt you to follow suit. However, it is highly possible that the driver knows the road well or is simply taking a chance. Additionally, all cars are different, so you must be absolutely certain that your car can handle the water depth comfortably without allowing any water droplets to enter the exhaust. Turbocharged engines pose more trouble than naturally aspirated engines since they intake more air.
Drive on the shoulder of the roads
Over time, road conditions in our country have significantly improved. Most Tier 1 cities are equipped with roads designed to handle heavy rainfall and quickly displace water off the surface compared to older roads. These new roads have a higher middle section, aiding water displacement. Therefore, if you have no other option but to drive through a submerged road, the middle lane is the safest choice.
Try to start the car in the middle of a flooded road
It is common for cars to encounter issues in extreme waterlogged conditions when the driver attempts to drive at high speeds. Water enters the air intake, causing the engine to shut off and bringing the car to a complete halt. As a reflex, we may try to start the car if it stops working in the middle of the road. However, we must resist this urge and refrain from starting the car under any circumstances. Once water is detected in the engine, combustion ceases, and attempting to crank the engine could further damage it. In the event of hydro-locking, it is crucial to seek professional assistance and have the car moved with the help of an external vehicle such as a crane or tow truck.
Not exploring alternate routes
Thanks to Google Maps and the reliability we millennials have towards this app, it is easier to navigate through multiple routes leading to the same destination. Even if it is a longer route, it is always wise to choose a path that is less likely to be affected by rainfall. Sometimes, using trial and error is better than subjecting your car to unnecessary damage, trouble, and financial burdens.
Stop in the middle of flooded roads
As a driver, when you are unaware of the road’s texture and condition, it is natural to apply brakes for safety. However, this can be disastrous on a submerged road. Remember that encountering unexpected bumps like potholes and speed breakers is common while driving, so there is no need to panic. It is essential to maintain constant acceleration on a submerged road to prevent water pressure from building up in the exhaust gases and rushing in rapidly.
Not checking the brakes afterwards
After successfully crossing a waterlogged road and reaching a clearer path, it is advisable to apply the brakes a few times. There is a high chance that the water carried solid debris that did not dissolve or flow away. Applying the brakes helps dislodge any debris hanging from the vehicle’s underbody. It also aids in drying out the engine quickly and ensuring normal operation.
Out of all the nine tips listed above, the best solution when faced with a submerged road is to remain calm and wait if you have the time and patience. Find a secure parking spot, preferably on a drier road, and remember to activate your hazard lights. This practice can save you from a lot of mental, physical, and financial stress.