This Is How Cars Behave in Floodwater

According to recent studies, it doesn’t really take a lot of water to carry your car away.

A first of its kind lab test conducted by the University of New South Wales was able to record and predict the minimum amount of rainwater required to move modern vehicles.

In the study, a test tank in Manly Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches was used to replicate flood conditions. In the test, a 1.05-tonne Toyota Yaris was moved by water 15cm deep and was forcefully carried away when the level reached 60cm. Then, a 2.5-tonne Nissan Patrol started to float when the water reached the 45cm level and was completely carried away as soon as the water level reached 95cm.

flooded car


After the experiment, the researchers concluded that most vehicles become vulnerable at the point where flood waters reach the floor of the car. This has been observed in modern cars because their climate control systems require the cabin to be air tight. Because the cabins are air tight, they are also water tight. This is why waters as shallow as 15cm have the power to move a compact car like the Toyota Yaris.

What can we do?

It’s easy to just leave your car’s fate up to chance and say that there’s no way to defend against acts of God. While this may be true to some extent (especially if you’re living in a flood prone area), there are measures you can take to at least minimise the effects.

The first thing to always do is to listen to weather forecasts for storm warnings. Once you’ve done that, you would be prepared to do the following precautionary measures to protect you and your car.

undercover parking

  • Avoid parking near bodies of water – When a storm warning hits, make sure to move your car away from bodies of water. Areas near stormwater drains are also places to avoid.

  • Make sure your car insurance includes flood damage – You need to make sure that your insurance policy includes storm damage. Otherwise, you need to call your provider and update your policy to avoid any headaches in the future when filing your claim.

  • Keep your car maintenance updated – You don’t need to wait for the rains to start to make sure that your car won’t break down when you need it the most. Keep bringing your car to the shop to keep it in top condition. Because when the storm hits, you need to be able to depend on your vehicle to bring you to safety.

  • Use flood covers – Flood covers are available in most auto stores and are now considered a “must have” for people who live in areas prone to flooding.

  • Move to higher ground or find a parking building – Using flood covers may prevent water from getting into your car, but as we have already seen, it doesn’t take much water to float your car away. You need to move your car to higher ground, or a place that has undercover parking in Brisbane. Doing so would shelter your car from the elements as well as minimise the chance of flood water from getting to it.

The recent floods in Brisbane have reminded us just how powerless we are in the face of nature. When it comes to cars and floods, it really doesn’t take much for rains to damage, or worse, take away our cars completely. This is why we have to take measures to minimise the effects of rains and floods on our vehicles.


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