Driving through water in a resilient 4×4 is often the most anticipated moment of the journey for any adventurer. However, it’s not an activity to take lightly. We get it — some paths are just too beautiful not to explore. And you wouldn’t have a Land Rover Defender as your off-road companion if you weren’t bold enough to venture off into the unknown. 

But, there are ways to stay safe as you cross riverbeds and make a splash with your four-wheeled roadster. And by prepping your Defender for a ‘swim’, you can focus on nothing but the thrill of getting to the other side. We give you a few essential tips for driving through water with your Land Rover Defender. 

The Thing About Water: It’s Wet!  

Your Defender isn’t an amphibian. And the actual depth at which you can cross a waterbed depends on how well you prep your 4×4. Neglecting to do so could cause severe water damage to your off-road companion and cut your adventure short. 

A general guide would be that, if the water goes above the top of your wheels, you’re probably in too deep. And this is why preparation is so necessary. You should also never drive blindly into the water without stepping out to check its depth. 

Before Crossing: Prepare Your Defender for a Swim

It would help if you never drove through the water with a hot engine or transmission. Submerging hot engine parts into cool water may cause damage due to the metals contracting. So, allow your 4×4 to cool off before heading into the water. 

While you’re doing so, step out of the car and ‘test the waters’. This is essential if you’re not familiar with a particular crossing. If you cannot walk through the water to the other side, you may want to reconsider driving through it. And if the water is flowing too quickly, there may be a risk that the current can wash your Defender elsewhere. 

However, if the water seems favorable, you need to plan your strategy for getting across. What’s often helpful is attaching recovery straps to your Defender and the other side of the waterbed. A great way to ensure your recovery straps’ security is to tie them tightly to your roof rack or anywhere that isn’t near your tires.

While Crossing: DON’T Go With the Flow 

So you’re ready to make a splash and about to take your Defender across the water. The best thing you can do here is to take it slow. As you approach the water, enter slowly — and we mean slower than your average walking pace. Only once the front of your 4×4 touches the water, you may accelerate gently.  

Maintain a steady speed, preferably low range second gear (NEVER change gears while in the water). Your bumper will begin to push against the water, allowing a ‘bow wave’ to form in front of your Defender. This will keep the water from going into your engine. And by following the bow wave, your vehicle won’t have to work as hard to maintain momentum and traction. 

The trick is to get your speed just right so you stay behind your bow wave at all times until you reach the other side of the crossing.  

After the Splash: Do Some Post-Crossing Maintenance

Once you’ve made it to the other side, there are a few things you need to do before you can drive off to your next destination. 

Let Your Defender Dry Off

If you can, stop just opposite the bank and let the water drain from your vehicle. Without the excess water, it’ll be easier to climb the bank.

Give Your Brakes a Squeeze 

Give your brake pedal a few solid presses to dry them out. 

Inspect Your Differentials 

Any water crossing above your axles without extended breathers means that they need a definite inspection. Check for water contamination at the lowest point in the differential where the drain plug is located. 

Driving Through Water Made Easy With Classic Overland 

Do you need a Defender that’s going to get across the water without a hitch? Well, there’s no better place to find your match than with Classic Overland. We have restored hundreds of Defenders to suit the needs of each one of our clients. So, preparing your Defender for a swim will be a breeze. 

Whether you need a roof rack, snorkel or some reliable fishing gear, we’ve got you covered. We can give you everything you and your Defender needs to take on the water like pros. 

Are you not convinced? Just take a glimpse at one of our signature builds; the Imbuvu Edition Defender. This beast features a snorkel Overlanding accessory to make driving through water a walk in the park. Crossing riverbeds has never been this convenient and stylish! 

Contact us today, and we’ll build a Defender you can depend on, regardless of what you face on your adventure.  

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