Ed Evans speaks out
Only a Land Rover can be depended on for getting through a flood, but there are some rules to follow
“Despite the maximum wading depths, a safe guide is just above the wheel hub. If the top of the rim is reached, it’s time to think about reversing out”
DURING DECEMBER’S road flooding in Cumbria I got around safely in my Td5 110 and early Range Rover Sport, even tackling a few roads that were otherwise closed due to the depth of water. The current Discovery Sport boasts a wading depth of 600 mm, but these earlier Land Rovers comfortably handle 500 mm depth on the road where we can expect the ground beneath the water to be level (though tarmac can be washed away in rural hilly areas). Extra caution is needed when wading off-road, where the ground below water level may be undulating. Despite the maximum wading depths, a safe depth guide is just above the wheel hub. If the top of the wheel rim is reached, it’s time to think about reversing out.
The ability to wade also depends on the condition of the electrical connectors that might become submerged, even though Land Rovers are fitted with waterproof connectors. Speed can also be critical. Drive too fast and water will swirl under the bonnet and be sprayed around by the fan to interfere with electrical systems. Ideally, just enough speed to create a gentle bow wave (assuming there’s enough depth) will cause the water level to fall just behind the wave, meaning there’s less depth under the engine bay. Using a lower gear to keep the revs up while proceeding at an appropriate speed helps keep water out of the tailpipe. And don’t allow other vehicles to follow too close because, if you need to stop or slow, their bow wave will swamp your tailpipe. Of course, it’s always a bad idea to stop in a flood, which is why it’s important to establish a clear route through, avoiding dead cars, and rocks that may have washed out of stone walls.
Non-land Rover folk buy other 4x4s assuming that four-wheel drive helps you get through a flood. It doesn’t. Regardless of traction, a vehicle that is not designed and built for wading is going to run into trouble, which is why we see soft 4x4s getting stuck. If the owners had checked the wading depth before buying, they’d have seen the manufacturers don’t quote one.
Only the real thing can be depended upon to get us through floods – and most other obstacles.