No two water crossings are ever the same and each crossing should be treated with caution. Below are some tips to help make sure your next water crossing is safer and that you’re not left with a water damaged vehicle, or worse.
Before leaving home:
- Ensure that your recovery kit is in good condition and contains enough recovery gear.
- Some factory snorkels are not sealed and therefore not advertised as waterproof. For example, the N80 Hilux Toyota snorkel is advertised to provide cleaner air to the vehicle’s engine in dusty environments whilst preserving optimal air flow and engine temperature. Some aftermarket snorkels also advertise that they help ensure that water doesn’t enter your vehicle’s airbox or engine during water crossings. Remember that a snorkel doesn’t mean that your vehicle now has the capability of a submarine!
- The MSA 4X4 Water Bra is designed to prevent expensive damage to vehicle engines and electronics whilst crossing water or mud and can be considered as cheap insurance for when you do need it.
- Know your vehicle’s maximum wading depth – This can be found in the owner’s manual.
- Identify where the vehicle’s computer modules are. Some aren’t sealed and can be positioned behind the headlights or under the seats which don’t bode well for a water crossing… but if you do still need to cross, then the less water entering the engine bay, the better.
Prior to Crossing
- Its always a good idea if you’ve been travelling a distance beforehand to allow the engine to cool down prior to entering the water.
- If its flooded forget it. Wait it out until the water starts to recede and conditions are safer to cross or find an alternate route around. Its just not worth the risk to cross floodwaters.
- If possible, always walk the crossing before driving it to check the depth and flow of water – if you are struggling to walk it then you will have the same issues driving it. Obviously if there’s a likelihood of crocodiles in the water, walking it first isn’t a solid idea, but if you are walking it, check for the shallowest areas, drop offs and potential submerged obstacles such as stumps!
- Find the easiest entry and exit points possible, avoiding steep exits. Take into account how strongly the water is flowing and what impact this may have on getting to your exit point.
- Have a recovery plan in case you get stuck.
- Have your recovery gear connected to the front (and potentially the rear) of your vehicle and securely held in place (ensure that it doesn’t get caught in your wheels). Time is of the essence if you get stuck and its not easy to attach a strap to a recovery point that is under water! MSA 4X4’s Water Bra includes a front pocket to store your strap for quick and easy access if you need it.
- Make sure the Water Bra is secured into position so that it doesn’t get washed away or caught on your wheels. The MSA 4X4 Water Bra conforms to any vehicle shape and size, and features a 10 second ''Quick-fit'' design. The Straps loop over the mirrors to keep it secure. No vehicle damaging ocky straps or tarps needed and no risk of injury! Drainage holes release water after the crossing.
- Ensure that bystanders are out of the path of the vehicle, out of harm’s way and away from those who will be assisting with a possible recovery.
- Having another vehicle ready to assist on the other side of the crossing is always recommended.
During the Crossing
- Select the correct gear that gives you plenty of torque whilst still allowing you to get up to “speed” to create a bow wave. This is particularly important if you are in a manual, as you don’t want to be changing gears whilst crossing.
- Enter the water at a steady pace and maintain this pace which achieves a slight bow wave in front of the vehicle and doesn’t have water gushing over the top of the bonnet. Even with a snorkel installed, when driving through deep water it’s important to create a bow wave to prevent the water being forced horizontally through the vehicle's grill at pressure. This pressure may result in the water being ''grabbed'' by the spinning engine fan and the fan then being pulled through the radiator, leaving you with a hole in your radiator as well as your wallet!
- Avoid slowing down enough for the wake behind your vehicle to catch up and lift up the back of the vehicle.
After the Crossing
- Once on the other side, stop and let the water drain away from the vehicle before driving off.
- Remove the Water Bra to prevent it from blocking air-flow to the radiator and pack away any recovery gear.
- Reinflate tyres to a suitable pressure to continue your trip
- Pump your brake pedal a few times to dry your brakes out before you leave.
These tips certainly don’t guarantee a safe water crossing, but they will help. Good luck and safe travels!
All MSA 4X4 products come with a Lifetime Warranty and are available from all good 4x4 outlets. At RRP $149, the MSA 4X4 Water Bra is cheap insurance and pays for itself after its first use.
Click here for more information on the MSA 4X4 Water Bra.