The first rule of water crossings: "If at all possible drive around". As little as a teaspoon of water or dust is enough to kill a diesel engine. If you have studied your engine bay, prior to fitting a snorkel, you notice that the air intake really isn't that high on the vehicle. They usually are behind the headlight or near the front of the mudguard. Fitting a snorkel allows air to be drawn from the level of the roof but this does not make any 4x4 a submarine, if they were they would be labeled Submarine and not Toyota, Nissan, Holden etc.
All water crossing, and I include some large puddles in this, are real "hazards" and should be treated as such. Water has the propensity to cause real and sometimes permanent damage to your vehicle. If you cannot drive around then you must use a route that minimises risk to you and your vehicle. Do not rely of the tracks of the previous vehicle they may have got it wrong.
Get out of your air conditioned cocoon and survey the scene. Walk into the water on the track you intend to take, feel the bottom with your toes, is it sandy, muddy rocky etc? If you can't walk against the current, what hope has a slab sided 4x4 got? Take a stick check the path for both front wheels it's no good if the passenger side front disappears into a 5 foot hole. If the path is drivable, fit the wading sheet or blind, and off we go in low 2 or 3 and maintaining sufficient pace to start a bow wave and let the engine bay operate behind this wave. Most of the time you engine bay does not even get wet if all is done correctly. What happens if I get stuck? At this point in time one really begins to wonder if that 4x4 driving course was really too expensive after all.
Wading Sheet or Blind: when crossing deeper water there is no substitute for a good quality wading sheet of blind. The fan on your vehicle, if submerged, will pull the blades forward when underwater and, as most radiators are at least a metre wide they will flex and meet the fan. Neat round hole in radiator cores a definitely cause for concern and your cooling system is now cactus and you are up to your neck in it.
Aficionados will notice the correct bow wave generated by the wading sheet which was made even more effective by the softer than expected bottom and a fair bit of panic.
Cheap wading sheets are likely to tear or dislodge when under pressure and cheap includes blue tarps and old bits of canvass, and as you’ve just learnt the propeller effect becomes a distinct possibility. The major problem with an ineffective wading sheet is it may allow water to access you air intake with a loud bang to follow.
We use and recommend wading sheets made from tough reinforced canvass as used to make the side tarps for taut liner trailers. Prices vary but they are a good investment.
This is what a Disco looks like when it stops in water. A speedy recovery was made and it took about 5 minutes to get rid of the dirty, stinking, rotten mud in the cabin after the drain plugs were taken out. Please accept out advice Learn from a professional at a proper 4x4 Course and reduce the risks.
The 30 Golden Rules of Water Crossings
Rule 1: Remember a teaspoon of water in the diesel engine is enough to kill it and about a cup will finish a petrol engine. Gas fuelled engines also have problems in water. "If at all possible drive around"
Rule 2: Drive around the water and not even get wet
Rule 3: Survey entry and exit points, it's no good getting into a creek or river if you can't get out
Rule 4: Drive around the water and not even get wet
Rule 5: Walk you intended route to establish if in fact you can drive over it, there may be a log or hole that will stop you dead in your tracks
Rule 6: Drive around the water and not even get the duco wet
Rule 7: If the water is running too fast to walk against it is probable that you will not be able to drive a slab sided 4x4 against the current without getting swept away
Rule 8: Drive around the water and not even get wet
Rule 9: Prepare you engine bay for submersion by spraying all electrical points with WD 40, CRC or any of those sprays to keep the water out. Remember snorkel does not make your vehicle a submarine because if it did the Government would require you to obtain a Boat Driver's Licence
Rule 10: Drive around the water and not even get wet, and, by now this is making sense
Rule 11: Affix a wading sheet or blind to create a bow wave and hopefully keep most of the water out of the engine bay
Rule 12: Drive around the water and not even get wet, it's not too late
Rule 13: Have a cup of tea and allow your diffs to cool so they won't suck cold water through the wheel bearings and consider driving around
Rule 14: Drive around the water and not even get wet it saves a heap of preparation
Rule 15: Ensure Diff Breathers are attached, clear and of sufficient length so as not to suck water into the diffs
Rule 16: Drive around the water and not even get wet this saves laying on your back checking the breathers
Rule 17: Attach recovery gear in case the vehicle becomes stuck.
Rule 18: Drive around the water and not even get wet and about this stage it really begins to make sense
Rule 19: Approach the crossing in Low range, 2nd gear.
Rule 20: Drive around the water and not even get wet at this point it's not too late to go back
Rule 21: Wind up all windows and put the Air Con on F for flat out, fresh air to create pressure in the vehicle and keep the water out
Rule 22: Drive around the water and not even get wet this is your last chance and by now it's really starting to make sense. At this point your fate is not sealed.
Rule 23: Drive across on your intended path, now it's too late to drive around and not get wet. If you become stuck get out one of the windows and initiate recovery. If you are being swept away by the current open one of the down stream doors and sink the vehicle and then initiate recovery
Rule 24: Stop on the opposite bank to allow water to clear from you vehicle so as not to make it slippery for any fool following you
Rule 25: Remove the wading sheet or blind
Rule 26: Check the engine bay and air filter to ensure there is no water where it shouldn't be
Rule 27: Dry the brakes by lightly dabbing the brake pedal whilst driving
Rule 28: At the first available opportunity check the oils in the diffs to ensure that no water got in because if it did it can cause serious damage
Rule 29: Thank you lucky stars and whatever god you ascribe to for making it through intact
Rule 30: Next time see if you can drive around the water and not even get wet
The analogy that always comes to mind is, I consider aircraft landings to be a controlled crash and one you got away with - water crossings are just the same not to be taken lightly, ever.
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