What to do when your car is flooded
Your repair options depend on the extent of the flooding, water type, depth and duration of submersion. Fresh water isn’t as corrosive as salt water, so you might be able to repair a car caught in a river flood. If you drove into a flooded road and the engine died, you might be able to repair the damages.
1. Do not start the Car immediately: do not attempt to start the car, it could damage it beyond repair, its best to have the car towed to a mechanic.
2. Determine how deep the car was submerged: Mud and debris usually leave a waterline on the car, inside as well as out. If the water didn’t rise above the bottom of the doors, your car will probably be fine. Most insurance companies will consider the car totalled (damaged beyond economically-reasonable repair) if water reaches the bottom of the dashboard.
3. Call your insurance company: Flood damage is generally covered by insurance, so even if you don’t have collision coverage, you may be covered for repairs or replacement. If you have car insurance.
4. Drying the interior. If water got inside the car, mould will grow quickly. Start by opening the doors and windows and putting towels on the floor to soak up water, but you should plan on replacing anything that got wet, including carpets, floor mats, door panels, seat padding and upholstery.
NOTE: these repairs are likely to be covered by your comprehensive insurance.
5. Check the oil and the air cleaner: Check the dipstick or the level of the oil, or if the air filter has water in it, do not attempt to start the engine .
Don’t attempt to start the car, have it towed to a mechanic to have the water cleared and the fluids changed.
6. Check all the other fluids: Fuel systems on late-model cars are usually sealed, but older cars may need to have their fuel systems drained. Brake, clutch, power steering and coolant reservoirs should be checked for contamination.
7. Check all of the electrical systems: If the engine looks OK to start, check everything electrical: Headlights, turn signals, air conditioning, stereo, power locks, windows and seats, even the interior lights.
If you note anything even slightly amiss — including the way the car runs or the transmission shifts — that could be a sign of electrical trouble.
8. Check around the wheels and tires. Check the wheels and tires before attempting to move the car.
9. If in doubt, push to have the car totalled: A flood-damaged car can experience problems months or even years after the event. If your car is a borderline case, consider pushing your insurance company to declare the car a total loss.
Replacing it will cost money, but you may save yourself from some major and expensive later.
10. Beware of flood-damaged Cars: Many cars that are totaled due to flooding are simply cleaned up and re-sold. Before buying a used car, have the title checked; words like “salvage” and “flood damage” are giant red flags. Get a comprehensive history on the car — if the car has been moved from another state especially states that has been subject to flooding.