What To Do If Your Car Has Flood Damage

October 17th, 2022 by

Mother Nature has unleashed her fury on Florida and the Atlantic Coast region, and your area, including your car, has flooded. Whether it’s Hurricane Ian or some other event, water can damage many parts of the vehicle, especially electrical components, mechanical systems, lubricants such as oil and transmission fluid, and even airbags. So, is your vehicle salvageable? Well, that depends on a few factors, including the amount of water damage done. Another factor is what you do after your car has been flooded. Here are some tips on what to do if your car has flood damage.

Determine Damage

Cars in flood water

The first step is to visually inspect your vehicle and see how much damage you can see. This would also be an excellent time to take pictures for any potential future insurance claim. One thing is for certain, do NOT start your car. The real damage to electrical components comes when you turn them on while wet. The same goes for other mechanical systems, so do not turn your vehicle on in any circumstances if your car has recent flood damage and is still wet.

Get Your Vehicle as Dry as Possible

The next step you want to take is to get the car as dry as you can. If it’s still submerged, bring it to higher ground. Then use a wet vacuum to remove any standing water that might be there. Upholstery cleaning tools that remove water would be a good bet here. Not drying the vehicle out can lead to mold, which can cause health issues, not to mention the odor it leaves behind. Use a towel to finish drying the upholstery, and leave the doors or windows open to let the interior air dry.

File an Insurance Claim

For those with comprehensive auto insurance that includes flood coverage, you’ll want to file a claim immediately to get your repairs covered. However, if the damage is too extensive, they may consider the vehicle totaled, and you will be compensated for the vehicle’s worth. Working with your insurance agent will help you determine your next steps.

Check the Engine Oil

Water finding its way into your vehicle’s lubrication system causes serious issues. If you check the dipstick and there are water droplets visible, that’s a sign of a major problem. Once again, you should never start the vehicle after it has suffered flood damage. If water is found, have the oil changed. You’ll then have to do a complete flush to ensure that all the water is removed. If you’re uncomfortable doing that, have it towed to a mechanic.

Check the Vehicle’s Electronics

It is relatively common knowledge that water and electronics do not mix. Ensure there aren’t any wiring issues caused by the water, such as disconnected or broken wires. Once you’re positive everything has thoroughly dried out and no excess moisture remains, you can power on the electrical components. Powering them up helps you check the electrical components like the turn signals, headlights, power locks, power windows, tail lights, and anything else that is part of the electrical systems.

You can also check your clutch (if present), the brakes, coolant reservoirs, and steering components. You should wait to start the engine until you’re sure there’s no water in the mechanical systems.

Determine Your Options

Whether you follow the steps above or not, it’s good practice to have a reputable mechanic evaluate your vehicle and determine the repair costs. It could turn out that purchasing a new car is cheaper than fixing it.

Can a Flooded Vehicle Be Saved?

Whether or not your vehicle can be saved depends on a lot of variables. One factor to consider is the amount of water damage done. If it was fully submerged for any length of time, the odds of saving the vehicle are pretty low. However, if it was only partially submerged, the water dissipated quickly, and you took the proper precautions, it’s possible to repair your water-damaged vehicle.

If you’re in a coastal area where saltwater waves caused flooding, you’re out of luck. Salt water does extensive damage and is not repairable. However, the possibility of repair remains if the damage is from rain or some other form of fresh water. Seek a mechanic that specializes in flood damage.

Another issue with flooding can also come from what’s in the water. If the flooding is from an overflowing river or lake, that can bring mud and silt into the equation, which can cause even more significant damage. It can get into places where it’s difficult or impossible to remove, and it can ruin mechanical components.

Final Thoughts

Water damages electronics. Your vehicle has many electrical systems that are required for proper operation, not to mention comfort and convenience features. Acting fast and taking proper precautions after your vehicle has flooded can significantly increase the odds of salvaging the vehicle. The longer it sits in the water, the more likely it is that water will seep into the various components and cause more damage. Keep in mind that once flood damaged, your vehicle will carry a salvage/flood designation from now on, which will significantly impact its resale value.

The best probable course of action is to get as much water as possible out of the vehicle, let it dry out, and then have it towed to an honest, reputable mechanic for evaluation. You can follow the steps above to check the components, but it’s almost always advisable to have a mechanic do a complete evaluation. Choose a mechanic with a good reputation and experience when it comes to repairing cars with flood damage. If the vehicle you love has been flooded, don’t worry; you may be able to save it.

If you have a vehicle that has sustained flood damage, contact the service specialists at Kraft Nissan to let us take a look at your vehicle. For those with extensive damage, the sales team at Kraft Nissan is here to help you get into a new or pre-owned vehicle as soon as possible. You can find us at 3277 Mahan Drive in Tallahassee, Florida. You can also go online to schedule any services you need, complete our secure online form, or give us a call at 866-984-2856 for service or 866-984-2839 for sales to get started.

Flooded parking lot. by rlh is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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