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Driving tips

How to drive in floods

Don't.

Even if you have a 4x4, cars are not built to deal with the kind of floods that we're seeing more and more in the UK. When there's a flood warning in place and you know your area could be hit, try to keep off the roads.

The tricky thing about floods is that they can creep up with little warning. So if you do find yourself suddenly having to drive in flooded roads, here's how to deal.

What not to do in flooded areas

  1. Don't enter flood water that's moving

    Find another way around. Moving flood water can easily pick you up and sweep you away. It's just not worth the risk.

  2. Don't drive through flood water at the same time as oncoming traffic

    Their movement through the water can create a 'bow wave' - like at the front of a ship. This pushes water right at you, which can make you lose contact with the road.

  3. Don't drive through water if you're not sure of the depth

    Quite frankly, this is nearly all the time. Floods can hide large dips in the road, especially if parts of the road have been weakened or swept away by the water.

    Generally, you shouldn't drive through water deeper than 10cm or 4 inches.

  4. Don't drive fast through standing water

    You're more likely to lose contact with the road (aquaplaning) and if you manage to soak any pedestrians, you're breaking the law by driving 'without due care and attention'.

How water can affect your car

  1. Your tyres can lose contact with the road

    This is called aquaplaning and it means you lose control of steering completely. If this happens to you, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel with both hands and stop accelerating until you feel the tyres make contact again.

  2. Your air intake and exhaust can start drowning

    With most air intakes sitting pretty low on the car, that means flood water in your car engine. That water can cause serious damage and a new engine is very expensive.

    Your exhaust is also very low - water entering here can screw up your catalytic converter. If you can't avoid going through flood water, get first or second gear and stay there. The higher revs will push against the water, helping to keep it out.

  3. Your brakes can be soaked, making them less effective

  4. If your brakes are wet, they can't grip properly - so they're not going to do the best job of slowing you down.

    As soon as you're out of the water and on flat road, test your brakes gently.

    This will reassure you that they're working and also dry them out if they're too wet.

    Test your brakes

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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .