The continuous rain of the last days with floods and huge puddles were fatal for some vehicles. Many of the roads around Sotogrande and San Roque were flooded. Some drivers overestimated the capabilities of their vehicles and their cars got stuck in flooded areas. Deep water always means drivers have to be extremely careful, because engines are sensitive to water. If the floods are too deep, there is a risk of severe damage: The engine can no longer breathe. Instead of the air needed for fuel combustion, it sucks water into the combustion chambers. And as water cannot be compressed it stops the pistons in the cylinders abruptly and brutally. The forces occurring at that moment can severely damage engine parts such as bearings, camshaft or valves.
Flooded car in Sotogrande
The air supply to the engine is mounted differently depending on the car model. In sports cars, the intake pipes are usually lower, in SUVs correspondingly higher. For most cars, however, a water depth of about 40 centimetres will probably mean the end of the engine. The exceptions are some real off-road vehicles, which fetch their air from higher areas with a snorkel. Even significantly shallower puddles can be dangerous, as water which is stirred up when driving fast might get into the inlets. And furthermore, it is not only the engine, that is at risk: The gearbox and electronics can also drown and produce severe damages.
But what should you do if you find yourself in that situation? The only way to determine the depth is by walking through. BUT: You then put yourself into danger of being swept away by the water masses. So the best thing to do is to look for another way or wait until the water has flown away.