Flooding is among the most destructive thing that can happen to a car. Even a car without a dent can be completely totaled. So if it happens to you, here are 10 things to keep in mind:
#1) Flooding is covered under most total car insurance policies, unlike homeowner’s and other types of insurance. Still, check your policy carefully and speak to your insurer about flooding and any obligations you may have, especially documentation.
#2) Whether or not your car is salvageable depends on the height of the water: if your car is flooded up to the dashboard, it is likely going to be totaled by your insurance company.
#3) Also key is the type of water: fresh water can damage your car, but will not be as destructive as contaminated water, such as that from floods. Flood water generally contains debris, sewage, bacteria, and other items that will make your car dangerous in multiple ways. The worst, however, is salt water. Highly corrosive, salt-water flooding may ruin your car completely — even in small amounts. Do not drive a car flooded with salt water until a mechanic gives it a full diagnostic.
#4) Do not start your car if you believe water may have gotten into the engine: starting the engine with water inside it can cause more damage than the flooding itself. The piston will be unable to compress the water inside the engine and cause a state called “hydro-lock,” which will damage your connecting rods. All flooded cars should be towed, not driven, to the mechanic.
#5) After any flood, immediately open the windows, doors, sunroof or moonroof, and trunk to allow excess water to evaporate: this will help protect your car.
#6) Flooding at wheel-top level will likely only affect your carpets and upholstery; however, it is likely that sound-proofing in the car cabin will also need to be removed and replaced, which can raise the cost substantially. While these will need to be replaced right away, — as they can be a home to mold, bugs, and other problems — your engine and electronics will likely be functioning. Make sure, however, the mechanic does a full diagnostic.
#7) If your engine has water in it, ask the mechanic how much cleaning will cost. It may be more fiscally sound to buy and install a new engine.
#8) If you find yourself in a rapidly flooding area, turn off your car immediately. Do not attempt to drive through rapidly-rising floodwaters; you’re not only risking your car, you’re risking your life.
#9) Flooding doesn’t need major weather disasters to happen. Your engine can be as easily damaged by a large puddle as a roaring river. Drive carefully and avoid large puddles, especially ones that have just been driven through.
#10) Above all, use common sense. If you hear a flood warning, move to higher ground. Don’t risk your car simply to get somewhere in a storm. Play it safe and your car will thank you.