One of the worst things that could happen to your car is getting flooded. On one hand, it can cause significant damage to the mechanical and electrical components, which can often cost thousands of dollars to repair. And at the same time, having your car suffer from flood damage can dramatically reduce its appeal to prospective buyers, making it much harder to sell should you choose to.
And unfortunately, there's really no way to protect your car from a flood. Heavy rain can cause flooding anytime, and the rapidly rising water level might not leave enough time for you to get your vehicle to a safe place.
So, what to do if your car is flooded? And how to fix a flooded car in the most cost-effective way possible?
This guide will explore what happens to a flooded car, whether it can be fixed, what you should do with it, and more. Read on below to find out everything you need to know about flooded car damage.
What to Do with a Flooded Car
Probably the first question a car owner asks after flooding is what to do with a flooded car. And that question relates to both the immediate hours after the flooding and long-term decisions about what to do with the flood-damaged vehicle.
If you're just curious about the issue and your car hasn't suffered from water damage yet, it's a good idea to cover a few things you can do to avoid the situation altogether.
For example, if you find yourself driving in heavy rain and start noticing the water on the road rising, you should seek higher ground where there's less chance of getting flooded. And if you see a flooded road ahead, it's usually better to turn around and seek an alternative route.
And if you learn about an upcoming storm with a risk of flooding, think about where you could move your car to protect it. It could be higher ground or a secure garage, as long as it's not below ground.
But what to do if your car is already flooded?
Well, one of the most important tips is to avoid trying to start the engine of a flood-damaged car. If there's water in the engine, starting it would significantly worsen the damage and might even make the engine unrepairable.
Then, evaluate how much of the interior has been affected. If there's water, get it out of the car as quickly as possible, and then use towels to soak up as much water from the cushions.
You can then arrange for the car to be picked up and evaluated by a mechanic. The severity of the water damage can vary, so if the flood wasn't too bad, you might find out that the car is still in pretty good shape.
You should also inform the insurance company of the incident as soon as possible. It will want to evaluate whether the vehicle should be declared a total loss or if it can still be salvaged.
Remember that even if your car is totaled, you can still keep ownership and get a salvage title, which will allow you to sell it to a reputable junk car buyer, who will be happy to take the car off your hands in any condition. Evaluating when it's time to junk your car will be one of the most important decisions you'll have to make. But first, it's essential to understand whether a vehicle can still function after flood damage and whether it can be fixed without costly repairs.
Can a Car Still Work After Being Flooded?
Whether your car got submerged after flooding or it ended up in water because you underestimated your ability to pass a flooded road, your first question will likely be related to whether the car suffered from excessive damage that made it undrivable.
And unfortunately, it's hard to say with certainty how much damage can be caused, even by relatively minor flooding. Some cars suffer extensive damage even after a short time in the water. Others might only have a minor level of damage, even though they spent quite a lot of time in a flooded area.
As mentioned before, it's best not to try and start the car until you've made sure that the engine isn't flooded. You should have a professional inspect the engine oil levels, look at where the water might have gotten into, and ensure that you don't have an engine with water before you try to run it.
After the engine, the biggest issue you will likely face is wiring damage. And problems can arise both from the wiring getting wet and the type of flooding, which could include salt water, dirty waters with debris, and other situations where the wiring gets damaged on multiple levels.
And even if the car might not show damage to the electrical system immediately, issues might develop over time, especially if you don't manage to get all of the moisture out.
Finally, your car will likely have general issues from moisture that might not be directly related to mechanical components. For example, you will have to deal with a lot of dampness in the cushions and carpeting, which can develop into mold or become almost impossible to resolve without replacing virtually everything.
And if your car has been sitting in salty or contaminated water, it might also quickly develop rust issues that can spread through a vehicle and pop up regularly even if you manage to contain the initial rusting.
When considering the number of different issues, it's understandable why buyers are wary of flooded cars. In fact, many of the lemon laws across different states were designed to prevent dealerships from selling vehicles with significant issues that can often arise from flooding, both in the short term and over a more extended period after being exposed to water.
Can a Car Be Fixed After Being Flooded?
When it comes to the repairability of a flooded car, the decision will often come down to how severely the vehicle has been damaged. It can also depend on the car's make, model, and year, as a newer car will retain more value and make more sense to invest money into.
However, as a general rule, the complexity of the task and the time required tends to dramatically increase the flooded car repair cost, which is why most people start looking for alternative routes they could take. When dealing with an insurance company, you will also find that it might be more likely to declare the car a total loss.
In many cases, repairing the car would require you to deal with engine problems, transmission issues, complicated electrical repairs, and more. And on top of that, you still wouldn't be guaranteed that the car will work well a few months from now because water can get into various systems and cause issues over time rather than immediately.
So, even if you manage to get the car in working order, go through the incredibly-complex process of cleaning it, and manage to minimize rusting, its value will forever be diminished because of the increased risks a future owner would have to take on. In many cases, even getting flood-damaged fixed insurance can be a complicated process.
Because of that, most owners end up looking for ways to offload the car and cut their losses, as the vehicle is simply not worth fixing. And the good news is that even if you get the vehicle totaled by the insurance company, you can still sell the car using a salvage title, getting a bit of extra value on top of what you agreed upon with your insurance agent.
Junk car buyers offer a simple and convenient process for getting your car evaluated in an instant. After filling up a quick form about your vehicle and its condition, you will receive a quote and can start arranging the sale immediately after.
In most cases, dealing with the potential damage won't make sense when there are simple and effective options for getting rid of a flooded car and replacing it with a vehicle that will be much more reliable.
Finding that your car has been flooded is never pleasant. Even relatively minor flooding can cause a lot of issues. And if your vehicle has been in the water for days, it may never run properly again without you having to invest huge amounts of money in fixing it.
Luckily, even if your car is declared a total loss by the insurance company, there are still options for getting rid of a flood vehicle quickly and easily. By selling to a reputable junk car buyer, you can get a fair price and get rid of your damaged vehicle in a matter of days or even hours.