car driving on a flooded roadAfter a rainstorm, large and deep puddles remain. In extreme cases, the local river overflows its banks, leaving several inches of water on the roads. You may think you can drive through a few inches of standing water, but how does this affect your car?

While it takes a couple feet of water to wash away your vehicle in a flood, just a few inches can damage your engine and other internal components. Think about these factors the next time you head out after a major rainstorm.

It Doesn’t Take Much

As a general rule of thumb, do not drive through puddles or flood-covered roads at high speeds. For one, you don’t know how deep the water will be. What appears to be a few inches might in fact be half a foot. You also don’t know what lies below the murky surface. Something sharp might puncture a tire, potentially leaving you stranded.

Beyond the unknown circumstances, driving through moving water that’s at least four inches deep or standing water that’s six inches deep can seriously damage your car’s internal parts:

  • Due to near-instant cooling, the brake rotors may warp
  • The car’s power steering may suddenly die
  • Electrical components may short
  • Splashing flood waters may damage your engine

Speeding through flood waters can lead to hydroplaning and sudden loss of vehicle control. Depending on where you’re driving, this could lead to an accident involving other vehicles, pedestrians or surrounding property.

If your car dies as you’re driving through flood waters, restarting it can make things worse. This maneuver causes even more water to enter the engine and may lead to more repairs.

The Engine

There’s more than one way for water to harm your car’s engine as you drive through a flood. The faster you go, the more you will splash and expose water to your engine. Traveling above 25 miles per hour could be too much for your engine to handle.

Your engine is not the only source to worry about. Water may be sucked in through other parts like the vent pipe, that could result in transmission failure.

The air intake may also suck water in, causing it to flow into the engine’s cylinders. This results in hydrostatic lock, where the pistons freeze up and the engine stalls, affecting other key parts in the process.

A small amount of moisture can create hydrostatic lock. After you’ve driven through a flood, check below the bumper. If you spot moisture or dampness, there’s a chance water got into your car’s air intake and may have damaged the engine.

Can My Car Be Saved?

While your car may start the day after driving through flood conditions, it could have hidden issues. Even if you don’t see moisture underneath, still check the oil and other fluids. A key sign your car is headed for trouble? Water in the oil, differential and transmission fluids. Also look at your car’s belts and the intake manifold.

While you can take a glance yourself, it’s best to have a mechanic or technician thoroughly examine your car for all signs of damage. Along with having your car’s mechanical and electrical systems inspected, its fluids will likely need to be flushed and replaced.
Concerned about flood damage to your car? Bring it into DaSilva’s Auto Body for an assessment. To make an appointment, contact us today.