Top tips on how to drive in floods and heavy rain

We’re no strangers to heavy rain here in the United Kingdom, so you'll likely have to tackle your early morning commute in some treacherous conditions from time to time. 

Knowing you're about to drive through heavy rain and on wet roads can be a daunting prospect. Fear not, we have compiled some useful tips that will help you get from A to B while staying safe on the road.

Alow extra time before journeys

Allow for extra time or delay your journey

If you’re driving in heavy rain or floods, the journey will naturally take longer to complete. If you can, map out your journey before setting off and allow extra time to reach your destination.

We understand that you might not always have the chance to do so, but if you can delay the start of your journey and allow the bad weather to pass, or postpone travel altogether, we would recommend this. 

Check windscreen wipers

Check your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional

Your windscreen wipers will be your best friend during heavy rain as they will maximise your visibility on the road. Before you begin your journey, ensure that they are fully functional as they will be under greater pressure in these tougher conditions. 

fill up your car

Fill up first

Make sure you set off with plenty of fuel due to the increased likelihood of queues and diversions, and the added unpleasantry of breaking down in a downpour. If you know you will need to fill up with fuel, allow time to do this before you set off. 

In tougher conditions, you may have your headlights, heaters and wipers on simultaneously. As a result, your fuel economy is going to be reduced when compared to driving in dry conditions. Consider this when you estimate the fuel you will require for your journey and ensure you have plenty in excess.

turn on your headlights

Turn your headlights on

According to the Highway Code, drivers should use their headlines if their visibility is reduced below 100m. You also have the option of fog lights, but these should be turned off as soon as the weather and your visibility improve.

Not only are your headlights there to help you see better, but they are to help other road users see you too. If it is raining, natural light is low or visibility is low for any other reason, turn your headlights on. 

Make space for other drivers

Make space

When driving in the rain, motorists are advised to leave twice as much room to the car in front as you would in normal circumstances. This is because, as the Highway Code states, stopping distances can be twice as long when driving in the rain. Be aware that it takes longer to stop and allow room for that in high traffic.

As with all other high-pressure driving circumstances, be extra considerate of other road users who may be travelling slower than you by maintaining sufficient space regardless of the speed you are travelling.

avoid standing water and puddles

Avoid standing water where possible

We know the big child in all of us wants to make a big splash when they drive through a puddle. The reality is driving through water can cause serious damage to your car. Where possible, try to avoid significant puddles of standing water and find an alternative route if one is available. If the water is moving or more than 10cm deep, avoid it completely. And remember that any amount of water could be hiding road damage or other hazards.

If you do need to pass through standing water be sure to take extra caution when doing so. If it is shallow enough to pass, do so in a low gear (no more than first or second) with high engine revs to maintain consistent and steady movement. By ensuring you drive slowly also helps you avoid engulfing other vehicles or soaking pedestrians that might be passing nearby. 

Try to avoid joining other road users in attempting to pass through large pools of water at the same time. Allow the car in front to come out of the other side before you begin passing through. By doing this, you are limiting the risk of waves and the possibility of multiple vehicles getting stuck in the same pool of water.

Land Rover Defenders are among the leaders when it comes to dealing with water and have a wading depth of up 900mm on select models. If water wading is a must for you, browse our latest Land Rover lease deals.

Test your brakes offten

Test your brakes regularly

Once you’re out of the water, it is a good time to gently test your brakes. This helps get some heat back into the tyres and will improve grip once out of the water. Where possible, you should also test your brakes regularly throughout your journey when on a dry surface.


Be prepared for aquaplaning

Cars ‘aquaplane’ when they lose traction with the road due to too much water building up between the tyre and the road surface. Knowing you’re about to lose control can be a scary feeling if you have not experienced it before, but there are things you can do to limit this.

Whilst aquaplaning, your steering feels light. To maintain control, ease off the accelerator gently and avoid braking. In the heat of the moment, this may feel like the wrong thing to do, but whilst aquaplaning your car has little to no grip with the road, making any braking you do redundant. This will allow your car to slow down naturally and eventually regain some form of traction with the road. If you do break, the locking of the wheels will reduce your directional control of travel further and prolong the length of unguided momentum.

Check your tires

Check your tyres

One way you can decrease the risk of aquaplaning is to check your tyres ahead of your journey. The minimum legal requirement for your tyre tread is 1.6mm. However, as per AutoExpress, safety experts believe that a minimum tread of 2.5mm is desirable when tackling tougher winter driving conditions.

Keep your bonnet closed if you break down

Keep your bonnet closed if you break down

According to RAC statistics, the number of breakdowns increases significantly during periods of wet weather, so you need to be prepared for the possibility. If you do break down in heavy rain, keep your bonnet closed or avoid leaving it open for prolonged periods of time. This will limit the amount of water colliding with any electrical systems under the bonnet.

Be considerate

Be considerate

We always promote kinder driving here at Carparison and that has never been more important when driving in wet weather. Driving speeds will be slower as fellow road users take extra caution, so it is important to have empathy with those around you.

Top tips for driving in heavy rain or floods

  • Allow extra time or delay your journey
  • Ensure windscreen wiper blades are fully functional
  • Fill up first
  • Turn your headlights on
  • Allow more space on the road
  • Avoid standing water where possible
  • Test your brakes regularly
  • Be prepared for aquaplaning
  • Check your tyres
  • Be considerate on the road

If you would like to know how you can do your bit on the road, read our top tips on how to be a kinder driver.

Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.