Over the past few days, the persistent rainfall has formed numerous water puddles on roads that have been poorly maintained across our country.

While our modern passenger cars are developed with waterproofing in mind, it is best to still avoid driving into puddles at speed, especially on roads that you’re unfamiliar with. Tempting fate and driving into puddles might just cause water to the engine intake and a condition called ‘hydrolock’ can occur.

Hydrostatic lock, or shortened to hydrolock, is a stage where too much water enters the engine’s combustion chamber. Our internal combustion engines are designed to compress air and tiny amounts of fuel vapours.

Only air and fuel vapors can be compressed in the tiny compression chamber (red). Where can the water go?

When water enters the engine, it can severely restrict the movement of the pistons inside during the combustion process. When that happens, the driver will be duly notified as the engine will start making loud, knocking noises followed by a full shut down.

Did it manage to drive through? Watch it here

If you’ve unfortunately fallen victim to a hydrolocked engine, do not attempt to start the engine as internal damage has been done. The only method for recovery is to tow the vehicle to a workshop.

Hydrolock can be very harmful to the engine – common damages that incur on components include piston rings, bearings, cylinder heads as well as bent connecting rods, which means your short expedition through the puddle can also accumulate a large, hefty bill. In more severe cases, a complete replacement of the engine is the only solution.

As water puddles are formed at clogged irrigation points on road shoulders and kerbs, there is sufficient room to drive around the puddle, traversing as shallow as possible to minimise water splashes.

We have also come up with a handy guide on how you should navigate over flooded roads, if you absolutely have to.

It is also a good time to invest a pair of quality wiper blades for the most obvious reason – forward visibility.  

[Credit: Autochimps, Facebook pages of MUFORS and Rossmore Police]