Driving Through Water Can Cause Unseen Damage to Your Car With hurricane season in full swing and tropical storms brewing in the Atlantic, it seems like flash-flood warnings are becoming a daily occurrence here in Charleston. Just a few minutes of severe and heavy rainfall can cause streets downtown to become fully submerged in water, and often leaves vehicles stranded and damaged. Scarier still, research shows that the majority of flood-related deaths are caused by people attempting to drive through moving water. While navigating through the water may seem doable, it’s best to avoid driving through flooded streets because it can cause major destruction to your car or to you. 

Look For Obstructions

One of the main problems that can occur when driving through flooded streets is that the water can hide dips and potholes in the road. Without being able to see the road’s surface, you may hit something and cause damage to your car. In addition, flooding can wash away the surface of the road, and you may end up hydroplaning and losing control of your vehicle. To avoid this, it’s best to drive in the center of a flooded road, where the water is most shallow.

Estimate the Water Depth

If you absolutely must drive through flooded streets, try to calculate the water depth by watching other cars drive through it first. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most cars, and can result in stalling as well as water being sucked into the exhaust pipe. A foot of water can cause most cars to float, forcing your tires to lose traction on the ground. Two feet of water can sweep away most cars – even large vehicles with four-wheel drive – and should be avoided completely.

Monitor Your Speed

Driving quickly through flooded streets can not only cause a deadly accident, it can also destroy your engine. Driving too fast can force water to come rushing into your air intake and will require the engine to be stripped and replaced afterward. To avoid expensive repairs or possibly hurting others, you should always drive slowly and steadily through flooded streets. Be aware of other drivers and put your car in first or second gear, to avoid creating waves.

In Case of Emergency

If you become stranded despite your best efforts, it’s important to keep yourself safe. Turn on your hazards so that other drivers can see you, and use your cell phone to call for help. If your car becomes submerged and begins to fill up with water, quickly abandon the vehicle and walk to higher ground. Whatever the circumstance, always remember that your car is replaceable, but you are not! To be sure that your safety won’t be compromised, it’s best to never try to drive through flooded streets.

We Can Help

If the interior of your car has been compromised by driving through flooded streets, ServiceMaster can repair the damage. Our experienced staff will assess deterioration, remove water, and dry the affected areas to help restore your car’s carpeting and fabric. We’ll work hard to get you back on the road in no time.

Photo Credit: Bruskov/Getty Images