Torrential rain presents challenges to drivers that can catch them off-guard, including reduced visibility, slippery surfaces, unseen obstacles, and flash floods.

With high stance, traction control and stability systems, the Chevrolet Trailblazer midsize SUV and Chevrolet Colorado pickup offer a distinct advantage over smaller cars, because they can wade through water as deep as 800mm without losing power. Other functions such as auto rain sensors and automatic headlights also allow the driver to focus on driving and paying attention to surrounding situations.

Before the Chevrolet SUV and pickup truck contended with actual monsoon conditions, validation engineers at General Motors subjected the vehicles to extreme water intrusion tests using dunk tanks, water spray booths, and flooded trenches.

“Truck and SUV customers around the world expect to get to their destination no matter what’s happening outside the vehicle⁠—be it a flooded road, river crossing or storm,” said Chatchawan Chantaket, General Director of Product Engineering, GM Southeast Asia. “When you think of all the sensitive equipment on vehicles these days it is critical to ensure that Colorado and Trailblazer customers will never have to worry about how their vehicle will perform in extreme conditions.”

“Hopefully, most of our truck customers will never have to deal with extreme water conditions, but in case they do they can take solace in the fact that we’ve designed our vehicle components to handle it,” Chatchawan adds.

When driving through flooded roads, there are four things that a driver should always remember:

Chevrolet recommends never driving through anything you cannot see or walk through, or is deeper than the center of your wheels. Large SUVs and trucks can operate in deeper water, but find out what is the fording depth specific to your vehicle.

Floodwater hides what is underneath. So, if you have to drive through a flooded stretch, make sure the road is still underneath the water and not washed away. Also be wary of unfamiliar roads that may have dips too deep for fording. Alternatively, stop and observe if others can drive through it safely.

If you have to go through a flooded road, aim for the “crown” of the road, or near it, as the water is at its shallowest here. Use high revs and a low gear first or “L” depending on the type of transmission. Keep a constant speed. Do not take your foot off the accelerator. A decelerating engine may induct water through the exhaust pipe and damage the catalytic converter. You also do not want the air filter in front to ingest water into the engine so drive very slowly. In both cases, damage will be severe and repairs costly.

Ease into the water at no more than 3 km/h, and increase to 6km/h in the water. This will create a bow wave in front of the vehicle and a depression in water level around the engine bay, reducing the chance of water induction via the air filter and also damage to electrical and electronic components. Speeds higher than this will just push water into the engine bay through the front grille.

Proceed one vehicle at a time so you will not be forced to stop in the middle if the vehicle in front stalls. Also ensure no vehicles are coming the other way, as the wake it creates may drown your vehicle, especially if it is moving at unreasonable speeds.

Once out of the water, apply the brakes gently to dry them. “Ride” the brake with your left foot if you are familiar with this technique. Release when you feel the brake starts to “bite.” Also stop to inspect and ensure nothing such as plastic bags or other debris is stuck in the grille or radiator fins behind it.

Keep this in mind the next time you drive in the wet: 15cm of water will reach the bottom of some passenger cars; most passenger cars will start to float in 30cm of water; 60cm of flowing water can sweep most vehicles⁠— even SUVs⁠—away. It is not the speed of the flow, but the force and volume, so it’s best not to take any risks.