If your car is completely submerged by floodwaters it will never be the same. Too many components of modern cars require a dry environment in which to properly function. Your best bet is to consider it a total loss. However, we realize this is easier said than done for many people. If you’re in a situation in which you must try to salvage your car, here’s what to do if your vehicle sustains flood damage.
Assess the Mechanical Components
In most cases, you’re going to have to have the car towed to a mechanic who can get inside and see what’s what. Avoiding starting the engine until you have an adequate assessment of what’s inside it, you could exacerbate any potential damage. You should also disconnect the battery right away to prevent anyone else form staring it inadvertently.
One quick test you can perform is to pull your oil dipstick, wipe it, replace it and pull it again. Taking note of the level indicated, if it’s really high, you probably have water in the engine. In some instances, you might even see droplets of water on the dipstick, which is also bad news.
If water found its way into your engine, you’re going to need a mechanic to open it up, drain it and replace many of the components to get the engine to run properly. As part of this procedure, your technician should also replace all of the fluids; this includes the coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and engine oil. The fuel tank and lines should be also drained before adding fresh gasoline (or diesel).
Check the Electronics Too
Today’s computer controlled cars have electronic ‘brains’, which do not suffer immersion gladly. If your car was completely submerged, the odds are strong you’ll have to replace computers and wiring connectors, so have your mechanic check these as well before you consider the car to have ‘weathered’ the storm.
By the way, if you’re being forced to do all of this because you only have liability insurance, when you compare insurance rates for your next ride, you’ll definitely want to get comprehensive insurance with coverage for this kind of damage.
Be Prepared to Live with Mold & Mildew
Seats, dash materials and headliners are basically big sponges when they are introduced to large amounts of water. If your car is submerged long enough for the door and window seals to fail, you’re going to spend a lot of time drying out your interior.
You’ll need to remove the seats, the carpeting, the headliner and as much of the insulation as you can to let them dry out in the air, If you’re dealing with standing water, use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to remove as much if it as possible. Fans and dehumidifiers can be used to help you dry the rest of the interior.
However, even after you’ve done all of this, there are so many nooks and crannies capable of holding water in the components of a car interior, you will inevitably encounter mold and mildew as well as the malodorous evidence of their residency. This can create health problems for you and your family over time. Plus, your car’s going to stink. Winters wont be so bad, but hot summers—oh boy.
Long Story Short…
Frankly, if your car goes U-Boat, by the time you pay to do all of this, or put in the time to do it yourself, you could have replaced the car. Further, even after you get all of this accomplished, you’ll still be dealing with the uncertainty accompanying each subsequent hiccup the car makes. You’ll wonder; was that from the flood damage, or is it something the car was going to do anyway? And maddeningly, you’ll never know.
Long story short, if your vehicle sustains flood damage, here’s what to do – Get rid of it.