Jeep Wrangler: Off-Road Driving Tips / Driving Through Water

Extreme care should be taken crossing any type of water. Water crossings should be avoided, if possible, and only be attempted when necessary in a safe, responsible manner. Only drive through areas which are designated and approved. Tread lightly and avoid damage to the environment. Know your vehicle's abilities and be able to recover it if something goes wrong. Never stop or shut a vehicle off when crossing deep water unless you ingested water into the engine air intake. If the engine stalls, do not attempt to restart it. Determine if it has ingested water first. The key to any crossing is low and slow. Shift into FIRST gear (manual transmission), or DRIVE (automatic transmission), with the transfer case in the 4WD Low position and proceed very slowly with a constant slow speed of {3 to 5 mph (5 to 8 km/h) maximum} and light throttle. Keep the vehicle moving; do not try to accelerate through the crossing. After crossing any water higher than the bottom of the axle differentials, inspect all of the vehicle fluids for signs of water ingestion.

CAUTION!

  • Water ingestion into the axles, transmission, transfer case, engine or vehicle interior can occur if you drive too fast or through too deep of water. Water can cause permanent damage to engine, driveline or other vehicle components, and your brakes will be less effective once wet and/or muddy.
  • When driving through water, do not exceed 5 mph (8 km/h). Always check water depth before entering as a precaution, and check all fluids afterward. Driving through water may cause damage that may not be covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.

Before You Cross Any Type Of Water

As you approach any type of water, you need to determine if you can cross it safely and responsibly. If necessary, get out and walk through the water or probe it with a stick. You need to be sure of its depth, approach angle, current and bottom condition. Be careful of murky or muddy waters; check for hidden obstacles. Make sure you will not be intruding on any wildlife, and you can recover the vehicle if necessary. The key to a safe crossing is the water depth, current and bottom conditions. On soft bottoms, the vehicle will sink in, effectively increasing the water level on the vehicle. Be sure to consider this when determining the depth and the ability to safely cross.

Crossing Puddles, Pools, Flooded Areas Or Other Standing Water

Puddles, pools, flooded or other standing water areas normally contain murky or muddy waters. These water types normally contain hidden obstacles and make it difficult to determine an accurate water depth, approach angle, and bottom condition. Murky or muddy water holes are where you want to hook up tow straps prior to entering. This makes for a faster, cleaner and easier vehicle recovery. If you are able to determine you can safely cross, than proceed using the low and slow method.

CAUTION!

Muddy waters can reduce the cooling system effectiveness by depositing debris onto the radiator.

Crossing Ditches, Streams, Shallow Rivers Or Other Flowing Water

Flowing water can be extremely dangerous. Never attempt to cross a fast running stream or river even in shallow water. Fast moving water can easily push your vehicle downstream, sweeping it out of control. Even in very shallow water, a high current can still wash the dirt out from around your tires putting you and your vehicle in jeopardy. There is still a high risk of personal injury and vehicle damage with slower water currents in depths greater than the vehicle's running ground clearance. You should never attempt to cross flowing water which is deeper than the vehicle's running ground clearance. Even the slowest current can push the heaviest vehicle downstream and out of control if the water is deep enough to push on the large surface area of the vehicle's body. Before you proceed, determine the speed of the current, the water's depth, approach angle, bottom condition and if there are any obstacles. Then cross at an angle heading slightly upstream using the low and slow technique.

WARNING!

Never drive through fast moving deep water. It can push your vehicle downstream, sweeping it out of control. This could put you and your passengers at risk of injury or drowning.

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