How do you make a car capable of traversing flooded roads?

Our tech guru has the answer
by Ferman Lao | Sep 23, 2012

Hi, Mr. Ferman Lao. My wife and I are looking for a new car. One of our choices is the new Honda Civic FB.

But I doubted if the car was suitable for our roads when I saw the position of the air intake. It is placed very low near the driver-side fog lamps. Considering how easy our roads get flooded, water could easily get through the air intake.

My wife considers it a deal-breaker if a car can't cross gutter-deep floodwater. Do you think we should reconsider the Civic or look for another car? Thank you.

Nealson John Nito


Hi, Nealson. Your concerns are valid in our country. Most modern vehicles actually do have chambers located somewhere after the inlet port to act as water traps to guard against splashes and whatnot.

However, in a flood situation, the volume of water may be too much for the water traps. You can choose to get another vehicle that you feel may be better-equipped to traverse through flooded areas.

If I were you and I really liked the car, I would just get an aftermarket intake for the car. It raises the air intake to at least the level of the headlights if it's a short ram intake kit design. There's also a different type of aftermarket intake that most people refer to as a cold air intake. This type of intake usually puts the filter in a location lower than the headlights. In these cases, make sure that you also have a bypass valve installed. This will take air from a higher location--if installed higher, which should be the case--should the inlet become blocked or get submerged.

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Another alternative, which I have done often enough in the past when no aftermarket intake was available, is to modify the air box by cutting open the sides facing the lower half of the air box. This also removes a bit of the restriction in the intake system and gives the engine a little more spunk--not as much as an aftermarket intake but just enough to be a bit livelier. In your case, the added oomph, of course, is just a side benefit of some options available to address your concerns.

Now, the above may not be the ideal solutions for everyone. But personally, I have not encountered any issues with any of them over the past 15 years or so that I've been doing them.

Best regards,

Ferman Lao
Technical Editor

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