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Is it OK to drive through flooded roads in Singapore?

SINGAPORE – Can you drive your car through a flooded road? With the recent increase of rainfall island-wide, that’s become an urgent question in Singapore.

With rainy seasons common here and climate change well underway, expect to see more floods in the future. What to do if you haven’t got Moses’ handphone number? We’ve pieced together some handy tips for the next time there’s a flooded road on your route home, and what you should do to make it safely through.

Assess the situation

Jaguar I-PACE Global Drive, Portugal, 2018

The first thing you should do is assess how deep the water levels are before attempting to drive through the flooded roads. Watch other cars ahead of you to see if they are able to make it through safely, and specifically to gauge how high the water level is.

Flood waters can enter the cabin of your car, and while you might be slightly safer if you’re driving a tall SUV, it’s always better to proceed with caution. The last thing you want is for the flood waters to enter the car’s engine compartment, causing it to stall. 

Surprisingly, Electric Vehicles (EVs) might be able to tolerate higher water levels as they do not have an air intake or an exhaust. But the risk of water entering the vehicle and damaging the cabin and sensitive electronic components is still present.

EVs are generally safe as the electrical circuit is completely isolated and sealed, and are equipped with safety systems to prevent short-circuiting. However, motorists should still take necessary precautions when dealing with floods and should not attempt to push the boundaries of their vehicles.

Drive Slowly

You should drive slowly and steadily through a flood, preferably in first gear if possible. Going slow prevents bow waves from being formed, protecting your engine from getting flooded. Also, you should practice road courtesy and not submerge other vehicles or pedestrians under a tsunami of your making.

Another point to note is to keep the engine revs up. This prevents water from entering the car exhaust as well as the engine from stalling.

Never speed through a flood as you might aquaplane. Aquaplaning is when the tyres fail to grip on the road which causes a lack of traction, resulting in the driver losing control and becoming unable to steer, brake or accelerate. If you do experience aquaplaning, don’t panic. Hold your steering wheel straight and gently ease the accelerator. To prevent skidding, avoid sudden turns on your steering wheel and stepping onto your brakes too hard.

Drive in the middle of the road

Try to drive in the middle of the road as that is where the flood waters are the shallowest.

What to do after passing through a flood

The first thing you should be doing after passing through a flood is not to share your pictures or videos on social media. Instead, you should check the brakes as your vehicle’s wheels have been submerged and braking may not operate optimally. Pump on the brake pedal a couple of times as this will allow the contact between the pads and rotors/drums to return to its normal, dry state for optimal bite.

Observe your engine behaviour

Stay observant as to how your engine behaves after crossing a flooded area. Be alert to unusual noises, or if the idling becomes jittery, or if you feel there has been a sudden loss of power.

If you want to play it safe, check your oil dipstick. If the oil appears to be milky, it is a clear sign of water contamination. In an event you do find your airbox wet, or water present in your mill, do not push on. It is best advised to have your vehicle towed to a professional workshop for a proper diagnosis and possible repairs.

Physically inspect the interiors

There are occasions when flood water may enter the cabin via your car’s undercarriage through compromised seals and the spaces between your door panels.

Remove your floor mats to check if your carpets and paddings beneath are soaked. Do inspect the upholstery and the door panels too. If there are damp patches, you should not wait for them to dry out. Never let water sit in your interior as you should try to keep your vehicle free of moisture. Be sure to wipe dry any damp surface as soon as possible to avoid mould, mildew and bad odours.

With the weather forecast ever so unpredictable, we hope this article serves you well in dealing with flooded roads if you ever do find yourself stuck in one. Stay high and dry folks.

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