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10 Safe Driving Tips for Floods

BANGKOK, THAILAND – Despite the drought conditions plaguing parts of Thailand this “monsoon season,” severe thunderstorms are frequently forecast, and the resulting downpours have been known to cause flooding.

The risk of flooding in Bangkok in particular appears to be on the rise. Thailand’s National Reform Council recently reported that the low-lying city is sinking an average of 10mm per year. That means a higher chance of flooded streets during the rainy seasons to come.

Chevrolet recommends the following 10 tips for driving on flooded streets:

  • If possible, avoid driving on a flooded street, especially if the water looks deeper than the curb.
  • If driving in a flood is unavoidable, first turn off the air-conditioning and roll down the windows. Driving in a flood with air-con on could shut down the engine, because the electronic fan will start spinning and flush water into the engine. If the engine does not shut down, the electronic fan could attract debris floating in the water that could break the fan, and that could eventually cause the engine to overheat.
  • Never drive through water deeper than the center of your vehicle’s wheels. Large SUVs and trucks, like the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Colorado, can operate in deeper water, but know the fording depth of your vehicle before entering deep water.
  • Make sure the road is still underneath the water and not washed away. Also be wary of unfamiliar roads that may have dips too deep for fording. Alternatively, stop before entering the water and observe if others can drive through it safely.
  • Aim for the “crown” of the road, or near it, as the water is at its shallowest here. Use high revs and a low gear – first or “L” depending on the type of transmission. Keep a constant speed and don’t accelerate too hard either, because this can cause water to be flushed by the radiator into the engine and electronic parts, causing the vehicle to stall. Conversely, do not take your foot off the accelerator and avoid stopping.
  • Ease into the water at no more than 3 km/h, and increase to 6km/h in the water. This will create a bow wave in front of the vehicle and a depression in water level around the engine bay, reducing the chance of water induction via the air filter and also damage to electrical and electronic components. Speeds higher than this will just push water into the engine bay through the front grille.
  • Proceed one vehicle at a time so you will not be forced to stop in the middle if the vehicle in front stalls. Also ensure no vehicles are coming the other way, as the wake it creates may drown your vehicle, especially if it is moving at unreasonable speeds.
  • Once out of the water, apply the brakes gently to dry them. “Ride” the brake with your left foot if you are familiar with this technique. Release when you feel the brake starts to “bite.”
  • After driving through a flood, clean your vehicle, especially the under body and wheels. Remove grasses, leaves and dirt stain as they can cause a fire. Also, change the transmission oil, because water might have leaked into the system. Clean vehicle carpets to prevent mold. Check the wheel bearings and all systems, or take your car to a service center to be checked by a certified technician.
  • If one must drive through floods frequently, owning a pickup truck or SUV offers a height advantage. Moreover, pickup truck and SUV drivers can increase the height of their vehicle’s intake and exhaust if it is necessary to drive in flood waters as deep as 1 meter. In general, a diesel engine’s exhaust can operate under water but a gasoline engine’s exhaust cannot, because the gasoline’s pressure is less than diesel.