The Daily Star 7 ways to drive safely in a flood without dying
12:00 AM, July 01, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:22 AM, June 15, 2017

Driving Tips

7 ways to drive safely in a flood without dying

Normally people drive through water and they don't die. Unless they drive into an ocean because the GPS lady said so. We are not too far from oceans but in the cities of Bangladesh, we have unplanned network of buildings to stop us floating into the ocean. 

So what happens when our city roads get submerged? Our cars can die. Here's how yours can survive. 

1. If you see a flooded road, slow down or stop completely. Better yet, turn back, go home and never come out till November. But our ridiculous traffic means we can't go back especially when it rains.So assess the road in front so you can avoid open manholes and potholes. We have potholes as big as a Dhaka University bus going the wrong way. And like that bus, we also try to avoid unknown, unfriendly roads. Here's an idea for app developers: The Bad Road Finder

2. Avoid the AC. The AC compressor is usually situated at the lowest part of the engine bay. It's a sealed unit so it will survive water. But turning on an AC turns on the fan and that doesn't work so well if submerged. Not having air conditioning is uncomfortable. Not having a running car in the middle of a sewage flooded Gulshan Avenue road is smelly AND uncomfortable.

3. Some people worry that water will go up the exhaust and into the engine. Not quite. A working engine pushes gases OUT of the car preventing water from coming in. Theoretically a car may stall because the backpressure from the water exceeds the backpressure from the engine. Such science states water won’t go all the way up into an engine through a working exhaust. But keeping the revs a little high prevents science from letting that back pressure drop which is easy with a manual. For an automatic, you can just pray the CNG conversion didn’t mess with the computers that ensure an engine always stays on when it’s on.  


4. Driving fast over water is the worst thing you can do aside from listening to every album of Justin Beiber. When you speed up, it creates a waves and if the water is higher than your wheels, you could cause the wave to crest over your bumper, through the grill and into the engine bay. You’d get a washed engine bay at the risk of sucking water into the air intake. If that happens you will soon learn the meaning of the word ‘hydrolock’. It’s an expensive sounding word that causes an engine to seize and die forever.

Here's some geeky, detailed info on hydrolock and why it sucks.

Secondly, avoid going too fast through shallow water to avoid hydroplaning. It’s when the car’s tyres start to float over water and lose traction. Your car will become a boat. I’ve steered boats. It is as bad as trying to perform brain surgery while eating oily French fries on a swaying Sylhet bound train.

5. Try to keep to the edge of the island in the middle of the road. It's higher ground and murderous manholes are usually placed closer to the footpaths where pedestrians walk. 

6. Watch for big SUVs and also microbuses that think they are big SUVs. They drive fast because they are irritated that they have to pay so much AIT each year. It often makes them feel they own the road. Keep an eye out for such vehicles coming at speed from the opposite direction. It causes a bow wave that could drown small cars and short dogs. Not much you CAN do but sometimes, you can steer a little further away or at least quickly roll your windows up. 

7. When you get out of water, pump brakes multiple times to make sure it works properly and all water is drain or evaporated from the pumping generated heat.If you do make it out alive, go home, park, let the car dry and then run some checks. The fins of the radiator and air conditioner evaporator (also looks like a radiator) couldget clogged by mud, leaves, HSC exam leaked question papers and lost cell phones. The fins need to be washed thoroughly or else in normal hot weather your car will not cool properly. 


And your car stalls, sit back and breathe.  If you don't see any sharks, you will be fine. Try to start the engine but if it refuses, don't push it. Or rather, get out and literally push it to a safe place where you can have a mechanic inspect it to make sure it has not sucked in water.

Contact me to know more weird stuff about cars: 

And here's a video on how to drive through water, sort of. Go slow, make sure water doesn't find a way over your engine and into the air intake. Mazda MX5 does it brilliantly. Zafira, not so much.

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