|DRIVING THROUGH FLOODWATERS
most notably in Metro Manila)
When driving through floods, the main things to
consider are to avoid getting water into the exhaust pipe, the distributor
system (for gas fed engines), the carburetor (for gas fed engines
that are not fuel-injected), and the air cleaner (for diesel-fed
engines). But this is just a survival tip.
Common sense dictates not to drive your car through
a flooded street. But given the woeful state of roads in Metro Manila,
which mutate into churning, murky, garbage-strewn rivers after just
a short period of heavy rain, it's sometimes hard to heed this bit
of common sense. What should you do when find yourself in a flooded
If you can spare the time and have the patience,
it is much better to wait for the floodwaters to recede and disappear
before driving on. By simply pulling over and sitting it out, you
prevent a host of maintenance problems from cropping up in your
car in the future. Just don't forget to park your car in a safe
place that's on high ground. If you intend to sit inside the car,
pull over to a safe place where you don't block traffic, lock all
doors, turn off the engine (to avoid CO-poisoning), and, if you're
parked on a roadside where traffic is still flowing, switch on the
hazard or emergency lights. Turn off all other electrical accessories
such as the stereo to avoid draining your car's battery -- especially
if you're in for a long wait. Remember, you need sufficient power
from your battery to crank up your car's cold engine to be able
to drive off once the flood goes down.
If, however, a matter of extreme urgency leaves
you no choice but to brave the flood and move on, and the floodwater
level on the road is not higher than your car's floor or half the
height of your car's wheel - and will not go any higher, say
a prayer, proceed cautiously, and
- Switch off the air
conditioner. This will make the load of pulling the car
through the flood lighter on the engine. Moreover, with the A/C
off, the auxiliary fan stays off, reducing the risk of getting
floodwater splashed onto the engine compartment and on vital electrical
- Drive slowly.
Again, to reduce the risk of getting floodwater all over the engine
compartment and the engine itself.
- Increase and maintain
the engine RPM to about 1500, but not over 2000, or a little
higher than idling level (if your car doesn't have a tachometer)
to prevent water from getting into the exhaust pipe. Any higher
than 2000 RPM is unnecessary
- To increase engine RPM without increasing speed.
- For cars with automatic transmission, apply moderate
brake pressure while stepping on the gas.
- For cars with manual transmission, apply moderate pressure
on the clutch pedal while driving on first gear.
- Avoid revving the engine too much and shift
to neutral if you have to stop.
When finally out of the flooded street, do not
go over 20 kph and avoid sudden braking until the brakes are dry
and operable. To dry them, apply moderate pressure on the brake
pedal intermittently while the vehicle is in motion until the brakes
are completely operable. Finally, when you park your car for the
night, do not engage the handbrake or parking brake. Instead, secure
your car with wheel chocks (if you don't have one, a couple of big
stones will do) and leave it in gear to let your rear brakes dry
out completely overnight. This way, you won't drive out the next
morning and find that your rear brakes are stuck up.
Last, check your vehicle's engine and remove any
piece of junk or flood debris that might have strayed into the compartment
and clung to any engine component, especially the radiator, the
auxiliary fan, or the condenser unit of the air conditioning system.
Should your car die down while driving through
a flooded street, do not re-start the car. Re-starting the
engine may only damage it. Just switch off the engine and have the
car towed to the nearest auto shop.
Once your car is in the shop, make sure the mechanic
checks the following:
- Engine Oil.
If the oil has been contaminated, have the oil changed. Looking
at the oil dipstick is an easy way to check if the engine oil
has been contaminated: if the oil on the dipstick has some discoloration,
usually whitish, then the oil has been contaminated and must be
- Transmission Fluid
or Gear Oil. The gear oil must be replaced if contaminated.
If your car has automatic transmission, have the automatic transmission
fluid (ATF) checked and replaced too, if contaminated. You can
check it yourself by looking at the ATF dipstick located on the
- If your car is equipped
with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), have the computer box inspected.
(Most car shops and even car dealers do not have the equipment
or the capability to do this though. At the CarSavers, we have
the equipment and specially trained technicians who can restore
flood-damaged computer boxes, cd/tape players and other electronic
components, if you bring your car to our shop within 48 hours
of getting it wet.)
- Fuse box.
This must be completely moisture-free.
- Starter motor assembly.
The electrical and mechanical parts must be cleaned and lubricated
- Wheel bearings.
The wheel bearing on all four wheels must be re-packed.
- Because floodwater
is highly corrosive, have all these done at the soonest possible
Better yet, have all these done in the nearest
CarSavers facility. We'll do these and more (including deodorization
and dehumidification) with our complete Vehicle Flood Damage