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Don’t drown your car: Tips for sailing through the floods


WE’RE sure that wherever you are in South Africa you have seen the power of thunderstorms and the havoc that these natural occurrences can cause. This past week an area of the N12 highway was totally flooded, so badly that it caused hours upon hours of traffic. About a month or so ago a few cars washed away on the Witbank highway too thanks to a blocked storm drain.

Those got us thinking, what can one do in a flood situation or do to avoid it all together? Here are some tips:

  • If it is raining tune in to your local news station for updates which will help you avoid flood areas.
  • If you approach an area that you suspect is flooded rather activate your hazard lights, slow down safety, get out of the car and inspect the puddle. If you feel that you would not be able to walk through it then don’t expect your car to navigate through it safely.
  • A puddle more than 15cm deep can cause your car to aquaplane or hydroplane as some call it. This is where water causes a loss of contact between the tyre and the road, causing the vehicle to be uncontrollable for a period of time. Good tyres help this but it depends on the depth of the puddle and the speed you’re travelling. So the moral of the story is, make sure your tyres are safe and that you slow down during inclement weather.
  • A 30cm deep puddle is enough to float the average car so be wary of any puddle that looks deep during a storm.

  • Remember that the puddle could be hiding a pothole, open man hole cover or an object that could seriously damage you vehicle and cause an accident so approach cautiously.
  • If possible and if it’s safe to do so stay closer to the middle of the road to avoid the deepest parts of puddles.
  • If you are stuck in flood water, do not attempt to start the car as this may cause water to flood through the engine and ruin it permanently. If you want to try get going first check your dipstick for water in the oil and your air filter, which should be dry, not wet. These are signs that there’s water in your engine. Check the electrical systems too by switching the ignition on and making sure everything works.

  • Once you have recovered the car have a look at how deep the car was submerged by which areas are wet to determine if it’s going to be written off. Generally if the water has reached dashboard the car is pretty much done for.
  • If there is water in the car we suggest phoning your insurer immediately and having the car checked to ensure that all is still working properly.
  • If your vehicle is stuck try and remain inside and phone for help, however keep a window open so that you could escape in an emergency situation. Remember that a car can be replaced, a person cannot.


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