Water crossing can be a very deceptive challenge. Water has a great habit of being perfectly flat on the surface but hides what lies beneath in the murky depths.
Again, a lot of problems can be avoided by walking the obstacle first. Yes that means getting wet! If you’re not prepared to walk it my advice would be don’t drive it.
Know your vehicle is also important. Know where the air intake is situated and what is your vehicles recommended wading depth? As a rule of thumb, no deeper than the top of your wheel rim. Raised air intakes or as some call them snorkels are for the vehicle to access cleaner air in dusty conditions.
As you approach rivers, take in the surrounding terrain. Obviously, if the area around the river is rocky, there’s a good chance that there will be rocks in the river. There are several basic rules on fording water. Flowing rivers, for instance, normally have a more stable base than standing water, and a simple rule of thumb is if you struggle to stand up in the water, the water will wash your car away.
Check there is a passable way through the water. Walk where all of your wheels are going to pass through and look between their paths. Your vehicle has a sump, differentials, fuel tank and possibly spare wheel all under you vehicle. Are there any rocks, tree roots or other obstacles hiding under the water?
Look at your exit point, remembering that each vehicle will dump water on this slope when driving out. Think what effect this could have on the last vehicle, and plan accordingly. When crossing flowing water, cross at an angle with the flow.
Once in the water maintain a steady speed, avoiding wheel-spin, as wet tyres are easily cut by any rocks that may be on the river bed. Don’t change gear, as the sudden loss of momentum when depressing the clutch will cause the bow-wave created by the vehicle to splash over the vehicle. 1 meter cubed of water weight 1 Ton.
Remember, if your vehicle stalls, don’t try to start it.
Check the engine, gearbox and axle oil as soon as possible after deep water crossings and drain the oil if there’s any sign of water (milky colour). Once you are out of the water apply the brakes gently to remove any water and dirt from the brakes. Whatever the terrain, use your common sense, think about what you are heading into and plan accordingly. Again, always take along a decent tow-rope.