car driving on a flooded road When a flood passes through your area and your car is left outside, is your vehicle salvageable from water damage? Unfortunately, there is not always a definitive answer. Rather, whether you should pay for repairs depends on the damage sustained. Consider the following.

What to Do After the Flood

As the storm passes through your area, note how high the flood waters get. This ultimately affects which components may be affected and to what degree. Once the water completely recedes, do an assessment:

  • Never start your car after a flood. More than likely, high waters mean engine damage.
  • Was your car submerged in salt or freshwater? Saltwater greatly increases the chances of corrosion.
  • In all cases, dry out your vehicle and contact a towing service to have it moved to a repair shop. You may have to use a wet/dry vacuum on the interior, especially if water has soaked into the seats and carpet.
  • Inspect the oil, transmission fluid and lubricant for water and consider changing your car’s fluids.
  • If the oil dipstick shows water droplets, your engine may be damaged and its cylinders may be broken. If you know vehicles, consider checking the cylinders for corrosion.

Types of Damage

Cars that have been through a flood may experience two general types of damage:

  • Freshwater: Generally, freshwater causes fewer problems than saltwater. If you catch it in time, your vehicle may only need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried out, with some minor cosmetic and mechanical repairs needed.
  • Saltwater: Cars that have sat in saltwater for some time usually experience a greater degree of damage. Salt corrodes its interior components, including its electronics and the engine, and extensive repairs are often required. After an assessment, an auto body shop may recommend flushing out the car with freshwater, significant rewiring and replacing various electrical components.

Cosmetic Issues

At the lowest degree of flood damage, your car may need several cosmetic improvements. A flood has potential to rot, warp or cause mold to form on your car’s interior materials, including any wood, leather, suede, carpet and plastic. Depending on the water’s height and the time your car was submerged, the interior may be completely ruined or start developing mold. As a course of action, you may want to consider:

  • Removing all body panels and trim if possible, so they can thoroughly dry.
  • Restoring the materials. Work with a repair shop for a detailing job: Shampooed carpets conditioned leather and polished wood.
  • Cleaning out the AC ducts. Otherwise, your car may develop a moldy, musty scent.
  • Stripping out the entire interior, from the seats to the trunk, for new carpet.

Making Mechanical Repairs

More often than not, your car may need some degree of mechanical repairs. If your car ran during the flood, your engine starts sucking in water, rather than air, through its intake. The cylinders also start filling up with it and, because it has nowhere to go once the pistons come up, the water remains trapped, resulting in hydrolocking. This significantly damages the engine and, depending on approval from your insurance company, may require full motor replacement.

Even if your car wasn’t running, never assume you’re in the clear. If your car remained submerged for a long time, you may need to have the fuse box, control units, modules, wiring harnesses and battery cable connections replaced. Even if your car seems to run after the flood, the water still affected the parts, and they will eventually fail.

Whether you need comprehensive auto detailing or extensive auto repairs, DaSilva’s can help you out after a flood. Bring your vehicle in for thorough diagnosis today.