4×4 Wading in Deep Water

There is something that makes driving through water irresistible to Land Rover owners!

Yes we all like to make a splash and it can be great fun crossing a stream, river or lake at a pay and play site. But water can be very dangerous so take care!

Make sure you know yours and your vehicles capabilities. Check the maximum wading depth for your Land Rover and measure it against your own vehicle so you have a visual guide in your mind as to a safe depth to go to. There are things you can do to your Land Rover to prepare it before wading and even increase the wading depth, a Snorkel is a sensible idea but make sure it is properly waterproof! Engines do not like sucking in water, it can cause serious damage to engine internals.

Before entering any water, we all know that the sensible thing to do would be to test the depth by walking the crossing with stick, you can also get a feel for ground conditions under the water, it may be muddy, silty, rocky, stony or gravelly. In practice we rarely do this so if at all possible stick to known routes or follow somebody else so you can see the depth of the water.

Driving technique is very important; whilst it may be fun to make a big splash it is better to go steady. Make sure to select a suitable gear that will provide enough speed and power in case you need to accelerate out of trouble. Engage diff locks if fitted and raise the air suspension on such equipped vehicles. Enter the water slowly and as the depth increases gradually build up speed to create a bow wave just in front of the vehicle; this will create a hollow just behind the bow wave that will help keep the engine out of deep water. You want to aim to keep up enough speed to have enough momentum to get through any difficult terrain but not so fast that you are overtaking your bow wave!

Remember that flowing water is very hazardous and can exert a great force against the side of your vehicle and can easily push you off course.

We have seen many Land Rovers stranded in deep water, so if possible, especially if you are a long way from home find an alternative route that avoids water crossings particularly if the water is very deep or the terrain underneath could be difficult or unpredictable. It may be better to drive a longer route rather than risk the unknown.

If you have to drive deep water:

  • Use a blanket, coat or sheet of plastic hung over the grille to help stop water entering the engine bay and debris clogging the radiator.
  • Remove the viscous fan or disable an electric fan to prevent water being thrown over the engine.
  • On petrol engines you can protect distributors and coils with waterproofing kits or carry a can of WD40 to spray on electrical components after.
  • If the vehicle starts to float uncontrollably, open the doors to let water in.
  • Always keep the engine running to prevent water entering the exhaust.


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