As the recent squally weather has shown us, wet weather driving can be scary and unpredictable. Yet do you realise that one of the biggest hazards to drivers in heavy rain is puddles? That’s right - PUDDLES!
I don’t usually get spooked by puddles. Yet last night, the rain was so heavy and the roads were so dark and wet that it became almost impossible to spot which parts of the road were covered by standing water. As a result, at around 6pm yesterday evening, I drove through a deep puddle at 30mph.Even then, I didn’t see a problem. In fact, I happily continued driving and didn’t give the puddle a second thought. Until a few minutes later, when a sharp corner forced me to brake.
Nothing happened! My brakes completely failed.
Luckily, I avoided an accident but I was shocked to find that my brakes struggled to work for several more minutes. Just as worrying, my power-steering temporarily went on the blink too, and the remainder of my journey home was disturbing and stressful.
So why had driving too fast through a puddle had such an effect on my car?
Well actually, I escaped pretty lightly. It turns out that getting water in my brakes and power-steering mechanism was nothing compared to what could have happened.
Driving too quickly through a deep puddle – even one as shallow as 6 inches deep – can have a cataclysmic impact on your car. If water gets inside your car’s engine it can cause thousands of pounds of damage and you could end up needing a total replacement. I guess I was very lucky.
Finding this out reminded me just how dangerous driving in wet conditions can be. So I thought I’d do a little research and ask around Stoneacre HQ for some advice on staying safe in wet conditions. These are our top-ten tips:
- Stopping distances are longer in wet conditions. The standard two-second rule (two seconds between you and the car in front) needs to become the four-second rule - increase it to four if it begins to pour
- Watch out for spray! If you see a large vehicle ahead, get ready to deal with a large amount of spray by switching the wipers to full speed
- When condensation begins to build up, turn on your air-con or heater fan - this will stop your windows from misting up. Make sure your air conditioning is working properly.
- In heavy rain, pools of water can gather on the road and aquaplaning can become a serious risk. If this happens, gently ease off the accelerator. This slows your car and lets the tyres grip the road again. NEVER BRAKE!! And avoid trying to steer - you could lose control
- Don’t use cruise control on wet roads. You need to be able to react quickly if your car starts to aquaplane and cruise control stops you doing this
- Never try driving through water that’s as high as your car’s exhaust pipe - anything deeper than six inches, or four inches if the water is moving
- Go slowly - speeding through the water will create a bow wave that will rise up towards the engine and exhaust pipe
- Never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to flood your exhaust pipe
- Use first gear and slip the clutch (keep it partly engaged) to keep revs high. This reduces the chance of water getting into the exhaust
- Once clear of the water, dry your brakes by lightly applying them when it’s safe.
I hope this helps. Please let us know is you have any helpful tips for wet weather driving that you want to share. And if you’re still unsure, you can always pop down to your nearest Stoneacre dealership and get your car winter-ready – we have some great deals