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Tips for driving through flooded roads
Metro Manila is prone to flooding during the wet season due to frequent typhoons, outdated infrastructure, congestion, and increasing populations. In times of heavy rainfall, roads can become submerged in water. Here’s a handy guide on how to drive through them when there’s nowhere else to go.
Maintain your vehicle
Just because your car runs, doesn’t mean that it’s flood worthy. Water crossings can be hard on powertrains and can put electrical systems at risk. Cars that have worn out parts, behave erratically, and are prone to stalling should not attempt driving through floods.
Know your car stats and dimensions
Check these two numbers in the stats of your vehicle: ground clearance and wading depth. Manufacturers typically volunteer that kind of information in brochures and on websites. Ground clearance refers to the distance between the road and the lowest point of the vehicle’s underside. Wading depth indicates the deepest water level a car can brave. Flooding that reaches ground clearance or lower should be safe to cross. Wading depth is the absolute maximum water level for a car, because air intakes, and electrical components are usually located just above it. The deeper the flood and the closer the water gets to the maximum wading depth, the more risk you will be taking. Subjecting your car’s vulnerable systems to flooding, such as sucking water through an air filter, is extremely bad for an engine.
Survey the flood on the road ahead
First, see if other vehicles similar to your own have been safely crossing the body of water up ahead. Look at your surroundings and other objects in proximity to gather clues on how deep the flooding is. Ask locals to get a better idea as well, and never underestimate an observable current. 6-8 inches of depth means that water is passable for most sedans; this level will submerge most sidewalks and curbs. 8-16 inches is passable for most crossovers, and 16-30 inches can be safely navigated with SUVs and pickup trucks. Drive around to avoid the deepest part of the flooding if possible. If you feel unsure, do not feel pressured to confront a dubious water crossing.
Drive through slowly and steadily
Only cross a body of water when there is space on the opposite side for your vehicle, and when there is no oncoming traffic. You could create a wave in the water that could destabilize another vehicle. Maintain the momentum of a slow and steady pace by applying constant pressure on the gas pedal. At certain depths, your bumper will create a wave which you should follow; right behind the wave will be a shallower trough, making it the ideal direction in which your engine should stay. Do not stop or slow down excessively, until you reach the safety of the other side.
Check your vehicle after crossing
After clearing a flood, pull over and stop to inspect your car and engine bay for potential damage and debris. Dry off the brakes as well, and put your car through a maintenance check-up afterwards just in case.