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AA rescues high number of SUVs from flood water

The recent bad weather has seen a spate of flooding and misery for thousands of householders with the misfortune to live in low-lying areas. Now the AA has uncovered a second group of people for whom the floods have spelt disaster. This second group of flood victims is rather more surprising than the first. It seems that drivers of SUVs are becoming stuck in flood water more often than they should.

The recent bad weather has seen a spate of flooding and misery for thousands of householders with the misfortune to live in low-lying areas. Now the AA has uncovered a second group of people for whom the floods have spelt disaster. This second group of flood victims is rather more surprising than the first. It seems that drivers of SUVs are becoming stuck in flood water more often than they should. The AA has revealed that it has attended a disproportionate number of call outs to flood stranded cars where SUVs are involved.

This, of course, is counter-intuitive. These SUVs have better ground clearance and four wheel drive, so surely they should be more equipped for fording a few puddles? It seems not. 4x4s have been over-represented in the 7,000 cars the AA has rescued from flood water since the heavy rains began on December 20. David Bruce, director of cars at the organisation, explains: “Our flood rescue crews say that many 4x4 drivers have gone through deep water only to find that the ‘off road’ capability does not extend to flood water.”

Drivers of standard cars tend to sensibly avoid areas of standing water on roads but it seems that some SUV drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security due to the 4x4 capabilities promised by their car’s marketing messages. In fact, many of these cars have very little off-road capability and the positioning of the air intake is critical when it comes to successfully negotiating water. If the air intake sucks in water, then the car dies and that is when the AA is called out.

Sadly for these drivers, that callout often proves to be the least of their troubles. Water ingress to the electrical system and the engine can be extremely costly to sort out and in most cases it proves to be too costly for the insurers to underwrite. Some 70% of cars that have been stranded in flood water go on to be written off. Unsurprisingly, the AA’s advice is not to drive through flood waters at all. If needs must they recommend nothing more than 10cms or about four inches deep. They go on to suggest that you never drive through water unless you know how deep it is, although finding out does in itself seem like a potentially dangerous activity. They advise avoiding fast-flowing water and suggest you drive through any water slowly and steadily. Water getting into the exhaust can also stall a car, so the driver must keep the engine revs up by depressing the clutch.

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