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Can You Open Car Door Underwater?


Talking about a real-life scenario, it’s possible that you may run into a river with your car. That might sound horrible, but accidents do happen. You are in your car, and the car is in water. Now, can you open car door underwater?

The answer is no first, and then yes. As soon as the car begins to drown in the water, the outside pressure will prevent the car doors from opening. But once the inside pressure equalizes the outside pressure, you can easily unlock and open the car doors.

Why Won’t the Car Door Open Underwater?

In movies, you might have seen that people can’t open the car doors while trying to survive underwater. There’s simple science behind that.

car submerged underwater

When the car jumps into the water, it gradually goes down. The underwater pressure completely covers the whole car. Moreover, the drowning speed will also reduce as it closes the distance to the surface.

Meanwhile, if you try to open the doors, you will feel stuck. You already know it’s because of the outside pressure exerted by the water on your car. Moreover, the outside pressure is always higher than the pressure inside your car.

But if you want a more clear picture of the scenario, imagine you break the car’s window while underwater (one of the surviving tips we’ll cover in this post). Now, observe how violently water will start filling up your car. That flow of water is the exact amount of pressure on the car doors. That’s why you can’t open the car doors underwater.

When Can You Open Car Door Underwater?

You don’t have to worry as the car doors are not jammed. It’s just the outside pressure of water. Just wait until the outside pressure gets equal in magnitude to the inside pressure. What does that mean?

Again, it might terrify you but read it thoroughly.

As soon as the water begins to enter your car, this will start to change the pressure equilibrium. No doubt, it’s a better change because the water coming inside your car is a signal that the whole phenomenon is equalizing both the pressures.

Let the water come in and try to remain calm. The water will replace the air inside your car, which will eventually get equal in pressure to the water outside. Once you reach that point, open the car doors, and you will be surprised that they are no longer jammed.

How to Survive in an Underwater Car?

No doubt, the whole situation will send shivers to your spine when you accidentally drive your car into the lake or river. Let’s not talk about why you would do that. Instead, let’s learn how to survive in an underwater car.

Gather Yourself

It’s normal to panic in such situations, especially when your car jumps from a 50-60 feet high bridge into the river. But here’s something positive: the moment your car is in the air till it reaches the water surface, you might lose yourself. However, as soon as your car begins to drown, you will have time to gather yourself.

It’s because of how quickly events are taking place. For example, jumping from the bridge to the river might take 2-4 seconds to cover a distance of 50-60 feet. That car’s aerial time will surely make you panic.

But once the car reaches the water, things will gradually slow down. Moreover, you will have enough time to analyze the level of difficulty you are stuck in.

You have to capitalize on the situation and plan your next move while your car is drowning.

Avoid Calling 911

You might find that weird, but calling 911 while drowning in your car might not be the best option. Why?

Time is the biggest factor that will decide the chances of your survival. If you call 911 and, for any reason, you don’t get a response, you will become more terrified than before. That usually happens when you seek help and get no response, you will begin to panic.

Therefore, first, you have to gather yourself underwater inside your car and avoid wasting your time calling the emergency services.

Plus, you don’t have to worry as the water will not come inside your car in the first few seconds.

Have a look at this 4-in-1 Car Escape Tool.

Unlock Car Doors

While sitting inside your car, unlock your car doors. You can use the interior car lights as they might be working for a few more seconds.

Try to Escape

This is the first chance to leave your car. When the car hits the water surface, it will float for 30-120 seconds before drowning. That’s when you need to follow these steps:

  • Remove heavy clothing
  • Forget personal items like phone and wallet
  • Roll down the windows
  • Swim out of your car
Escape from Underwater Car

Try to reach the water surface as quickly as possible and seek help. Moreover, don’t stay in the water for too long as it might severely affect your health, especially in winters.

Wait Till Both Pressures Equalize

In case you have failed the first opportunity, it’s time to wait till you can open the car doors underwater. You have read how the phenomenon works. Therefore, just sit there calmly and wait till your car gets full of water.

Break the Window

If things are getting serious, it’s to break the car window. It’s wise to always keep a sharp tool that can break the car window in emergency situations.

Check out the Window Hammer Tool & Seat Belt Cutter for emergency situations.

Once you see that the chances of survival are being reduced, use that tool and crack the window. Don’t go for the windshield as it’s a laminated glass with heavy protection. Besides, learn the glass combination of your car to make sure you escape in situations like this one.

Control Your Mind & Body

That’s the final part in which the water will rise to your chin level. You have successfully opened the door or broken the window. As your body begins to drench in water, you have to take deep breaths and take support from the wheel with one hand.

Start by removing your seat belt and relaxing your body while leaving the car.

That way, you can escape your underwater car and save your life from this terrifying situation.

Final Thoughts

You should learn the basic survival technique in an emergency situation like being stuck in an underwater car. No doubt, accidents can happen to anyone. But the real game is how to save your life in a time of panic.

You can practice the whole scenario in your mind and memorize what to do when you can’t open the car doors underwater. Moreover, always keep a sharp tool that can help break your car window.

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