Under water driving

I work at a car dealership in Lexington, KY. This is for the person who called in about the 2 to 3 feet of water that runs over a road he uses. There is an option on a Wrangler that encases the engine and has a snorkel attachment. I don’t know if they still offer it on newer models, but I sold one last month that was an '08 model. It would be able to go through that amount of water with no negative side effects.

A great deal more than a snorkel is needed to drive through deep water. A snorkel on a Wrangler might get the Jeep through water that spills over the doorways but the transmission, front and rear axles and ignition system might suffer some damage that doesn’t show up for a while. The military Jeeps that have fording snorkels on them have the entire drive train sealed with venting through the snorkel and the ignition system is sealed water tight including spark plugs and wires.

There are various organizations that specialize is outfitting SUVs for jungle and other severe use. Yes, you can get a snorkel air intake and exhaust pipe that runs up the side of the cab, and a sealed oil pan. I’ve ridden in many of these vehicles in Africa and Asian jungle locations. The manufacturers themselves can supply all the parts you need, but in North America there would need to an emission check to ensure the vehicle was compliant.

I would search the internet for those parts suppliers and/contractors that supply these things.

Years ago, there was a story in “Tales From the Model Garage” which was a running series in Popular Science magazine. Gus Wilson, the proprietor of the Model Garage helped an old friend prepare an army Jeep for underwater competition. The Jeeps had snorkels for the intake and exhaust. The competition did various means to waterproof the ignition system. Gus drilled holes in the exhaust valves and when the engine was run, the holes would fill up with carbon. The carbon would retain heat so that when the ignition system was shut off, the engine would run as a diesel. Gus’s friend won the competition. However, Gus pointed out that the idea wasn’t practical as the engine would always be running out of time. I think this story was in a mid 1950s Popular Science.

I can tell you from having driving off road through deep water, there is no such thing as no negative effect. You can minimize the problems and you can check problems later. But water, especially salt water and dirty water can present problems for any vehicle. By " no problems" I assume you mean no problems that would stop you from driving on. But, if you do ths continuously, be ready for more maintenance.

My recommendation is for the caller to purchase his Subaru with a roof rack. Put a canoe on the roof rack and paddle across the road when the water is high. This assumes that there is no fast moving current. However, a fast moving current could also sweep the vehicle away.

Yep, deep water often = fast water, I don’t care if the engine is still running as I’m washed downstream.

Deep water that has enough flotation will make your car unstable. Though deeper water is generally slower moving then shallow water, it creates more instability in the car so less current is needed. When you are fording 2 to 3 feet of water on a regular basis, you need a boat or you should avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, start getting in touch with an “off road forum” to look at viable options and do additional research. Number one priority is, don’t guess about the hazard and be really sure about exactly what you are facing. Having someone invest in road repair and a very big culvert or a bridge is the safest all round solution to these situations. It can actually be cheaper if you have to replace vehicles because of it.

Unusual deep water (rain runoff) is often very fast.

Still waters run deep. Water in shallow areas like rapids, pick up speed to move the same volume of water down a river or a flood stream…it doesn’t matter. When water runs across a road as a result of spring run off or stream flooding, it runs very briskly and erodes the road away. As the depth of the erosion deepens, the water slows down. Unusually deep water is dangerous because it adds floatation to the vehicle making it less stabile and the water has greater mass depth pushing against the side if the car ! That is the real problem of driving through deep water.

6 inches of water traveling 20 mph is a lot less dangerous then 2 feet of water traveling 10 miles per hour. If you see slow moving flood water from a local river or stream moving accross a road, be very careful. It’s probably eroded underneath and very deep. That’s just what water does, all water. Take a canoe ride down a stream…

Still waters run deep, but deep waters don’t necessarily run slowly. I’ve canoed down rapids. Running a rapids during a low water period can be pleasant while running the same rapids after torrential rains can be terrifying.

Thank you, @Joe1560. Your suggestion of a kit that encases the engine and has a snorkel attachment seems like a good idea to me. I live in Florida, and with all the flooding we get here, I’ve thought about making such a modification on a vehicle.

Obviously, the higher the volume of water to be transported, the faster the water. But I hoped you still noticed, that while running the river or stream, the water mover fastest over shallow areas and slower over deeper though the overall velocity I’m sure was higher during heavy rains. It’s not rocket science. Rapids are shallower then the deeper parts. If they aren’t then the gradient around the shore is steeper and the river or stream narrows up instead of over flowing it’s banks creating the rapid water.
It’s not like we are making this stuff up…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid

Thanks, I’m glad you agree with me.

Good to hear from another water person. I gave up canoeing rivers and streams every weekend when I took up sailing…too much unanticipated swimming in water too cold to enjoy. Had drop from four canoes to two.

My sunroof leaks on an 1997 jeep Cherokee. If it sits while raining it will fill up the floor board of the passenger side… Could this cause electrical ignition problems over time? Right now it won’t start, no dash lights, but it makes a constant clicking sound on the passenger side under the dash. (With the key on or off) it will constantly click and won’t start… Any suggestions?

Some of the wiring in an SUV goes through the roof to the back, especially the rear wipers, OH lighting, lighting on the rear hatch and washers. Everything above the roof line is often wired this way. So, not only is this wiring perhaps getting a dousing but any wiring on the way down the roof and into the dash that you may not see. I would take it to a shop and have it looked at ASAP. You should get leaks fixed immediately before they become BIG problems…this sounds like it may have.

Remembering shop teacher going through water having vw van in gear using starter motor,