Driving through puddles seems a harmless part of driving in winter, but our new research has indicated that regularly exposure to water from surface rain and puddles could mean racking up a huge bill in repairs.
Britain is braced for torrential rain as Hurricane Lorenzo approaches the nation from Tuesday onwards. The Met Office has issued ‘danger to life’ warnings, with gale-force winds and persistent rain set to batter Britain until Friday.
The downpours mean flooding and standing water become a real risk for drivers. We've dug a bit deeper and our experts have found some shocking home truths about the impact of rain water. Hitting deep puddles when you’re going too fast isn’t just a skid risk, it could spell end game for your car’s engine.
Mark Tongue, company director at Select Car Leasing says that if the water is forced into the car’s air intakes, it can lock the piston in place.
He explains: “Hurricane Lorenzo could lead to a huge spike in vehicle engine failures this week, and motorists need to be aware of the dangers.
“With a lot of modern cars, the engine’s air intake is situated low down at the front of the vehicle.
“And if you hit a significant amount of water with sufficient speed, you can force air into this intake and potentially destroy your engine.
“It only takes a tiny amount of water - an eggcup full - to cause what’s known as ‘hydrostatic lock’ - where water gets into a cylinder and causes it to lock in place.
“You could then end up needing a new engine, with a replacement costing several thousand pounds.”
Performing rally-like puddle manoeuvres could also end up wrecking your electrics, too.
Mark adds: “Over-exuberance when going through puddles could also force water into areas of your car when the sensitive electrical systems are located. And you want to avoid that at all costs.
“A short circuit might cause you to lose all engine power, and it’s also a fire risk.
“The other thing to consider is that vehicle airbags might suddenly go off, too, creating a terrifying risk for both yourself and other road users. Meanwhile, on older cars, water might get into the distributor cap - the component passes the voltage from the ignition coils to the engine's cylinders.”
If you see standing water on the road, slow down and make sure you leave plenty of space between yourself and the car in front of you. Also be wary of ‘aquaplaning’, particularly on motorways, where your tyres lose contact with the road and lead to a loss of traction.
Meanwhile, soaking-wet brakes can also momentarily lose their ‘bite’.
Mark adds: “If your brake rotors are extremely hot, exposing them to a lot of water can actually warp them, which can create a ‘shudder’. New brake discs can also prove expensive, costing several hundred pounds to remedy.
“Meanwhile water may also get into the brake lines themselves, potentially causing brake failure.
“After rolling through deep water, give your brakes a little squeeze to ensure they’re still working perfectly.”
The Select Car Leasing team also warn of another puddle risk - splashing pedestrians, which can leave you with up to nine penalty points on your licence and having to pay a £5000 fine.
Mark reveals: “Splashing pedestrians constitutes ‘Careless Driving’ in the eyes of the law, with a driver likely to be hit with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three points.
“But if the motorist is deemed to be driving in a manner that amounts to a clear act of ‘incompetence, selfishness, impatience and aggressiveness, then the maximum punishment increases to a £5,000 fine.”