Storm Ciaran: Carwow’s tips for wet weather driving

November 01, 2023 by

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01 November: As the Met Office issues multiple yellow alerts across various UK regions in anticipation of Storm Ciaran, which is set to bring in strong gusts and substantial rainfall, the safety of driving in these conditions will be a top concern for many.


Carwow’s Managing Editor and automotive expert Paul Barker shares his top tips on making sure your journey is as safe as possible this week.

Paul says: “It goes without saying, but if you’re in an area that’s set to be particularly badly hit by Storm Ciaran, it’s best to ditch any unessential journeys. Fewer cars on the road make it safer for all motorists. However, if you do need to make a journey between now and Saturday, there’s a few things you can do to make sure you stay as safe as possible.”

Before You Venture Out

1. Don’t Take Chances: If you have any doubts about the depth of the water, don’t risk it. Step out of your vehicle and use a stick to gauge the water’s depth. Remember, it’s better to get your feet or trousers wet than to jeopardise your safety.

2. Watch Your Car’s Bodywork: If the water level surpasses the lowest part of your car’s bodywork, such as the front bumper or the sills beneath the doors, avoid driving through it.

3. Protect Your Engine: Keep in mind that water cannot be compressed. Even a small amount of water can severely damage your engine and vehicle electronics. So, always exercise caution.

4. Visibility Matters: If the water is too dirty or deep to see the road or potential hazards like floating drain covers or manholes, do not proceed. Lack of visibility can pose significant risks.

If You Decide to Proceed

5. Beware of Aquaplaning: Aquaplaning occurs when a film of water forms between your tires and the road, causing a loss of traction. If you experience aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator gently, keep the car pointing straight and apply brakes gradually

6. One at a Time: Drive through flood water one vehicle at a time. If the vehicle ahead gets stuck or breaks down, you may find yourself reversing out of the flood, which is challenging and even more so with traffic behind you. Be considerate to oncoming traffic to minimise the risk of a bow wave.

7. Stay in the Middle: Drive in the middle of the road as it’s usually higher than the sides. This minimises the risk of driving onto a soft verge or hitting a curb.

8. Control Your Speed: Maintain a low, but not too low, speed. Fast-moving water can damage your car. Keeping some speed creates a bow wave to keep the water lower, typically around 3-4 mph.

9. Keep Revs High: Use first gear or a low gear in automatic transmission cars to maintain high engine revs. This helps prevent water from entering the exhaust and reduces the risk of stalling.

10. Test Your Brakes: Once on the other side, apply your brakes to clear moisture and ensure they work effectively.

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