7 Flooded Car Problems to Watch Out for This Rainy Season

by Venus Zoleta, on category "Car Insurance"

June 27, 2018


The rainy season is here again—along with it comes one of the car owner’s worst enemies: flooding. Unless your vehicle is a pick-up or SUV that can safely wade through a flood, you don’t want your car to get soaked in floodwater while it’s running or parked.

What to Do With Your Car After Flooding

Floodwater causes a lot of car problems that show up long after the vehicle has been submerged. It can ruin a vehicle’s electrical systems, mechanical systems, and lubricants. Flood-damaged cars are costly to repair, so never risk it—avoid passing through a flooded area. Wait for the floodwater to subside before driving on.

But sometimes, cars still get flooded while they’re stuck in traffic or parked in flood-prone areas. When that happens to your ride, inspect it afterward to spot any damage and make it roadworthy again.

For safety, avoid starting your car right after the flooding, as this may cause irreparable damage to its engine and electronics. It may even start a fire. If you’re in doubt, have it towed to an auto repair shop for inspection.

If you’re buying a second-hand car, check each unit you’re considering for any signs of damage caused by flooding. Even better, have a qualified mechanic help you inspect a used car for sale.

Auto dealers in the Philippines usually have a trade-in program that allows people to sell their flooded cars, which the dealers will then restore and resell as pre-owned cars.

7 Typical Flood-Damaged Car Problems

Flooded Car Problems

Whether you’re reviving a flooded car or buying a used one, here are the tell-tale signs of a flood-damaged vehicle you must be aware of.

1. Malfunctions in the Electronics and Electrical System

A vehicle’s electronics and electrical parts always sustain the most serious damage after flooding. Moisture can cause a short circuit in the electrical system, resulting in malfunction of its critical components, including the following:

  • Electrical control unit (ECU)
  • Headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and other automotive lights
  • Air conditioning system
  • Power windows, power locks, and power seats
  • Audio and video systems
  • Fuses
  • Anti-lock brake system

Before turning these electrical parts on for inspection, make sure that the engine is safe to start. All the plugs, switches, and relays must be dried out.

If you notice anything wrong with how a certain component works, that’s a clear sign of electrical trouble. Also, if the ECU got soaked, have it checked immediately at the repair shop.

2. Mechanical Damage to the Engine

The engine is another critical part of your car that needs utmost attention after it’s flooded. When floodwater reaches engine parts like the air intake and cylinders, the piston will try to compress it. Since water doesn’t compress, it can break the piston rods and lead to engine stalling.

To find out if floodwater has entered the engine, check the oil dipstick for water droplets and oil that looks milky.

3. Mold and Mildew in the Interior

Flooded Car Problems

Instagram photo by @samanthaa195

Apart from car problems, flooding also poses health issues to drivers and passengers. Submerged in floodwater, a car’s interior may quickly develop mold and mildew that can cause respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergies.
A strong musty odor means mold is present in a car. Remove and check these parts in your flooded car:

  • Seats
  • Carpets and floor mats
  • Headliner
  • A/C system
  • Door panels
  • Trunk

Some of the wet parts, such as the carpets, door panels, and seats, can be replaced. You can put towels on the floor and seats to soak up water. Don’t let water sit in your car for too long.

4. Mud and Debris in Hard-to-Clean Areas

Floodwater may leave mud and debris on areas of your car that aren’t easily obvious. Check the hard-to-clean places where mud or debris could be lodged. These include the engine compartment, wheels, brakes, underbody, and gaps under the hood and between panels in the trunk.

Found a lot of mud and debris in your car? Have it detailed to ensure that even the hard-to-reach areas are all clean.

5. Corroded Car Parts

Rust takes months or years to form on the various parts of a flooded car. It can weaken your car’s structure and affect functions like braking and shifting gears. At the first signs of rusting after your car has been flooded, work immediately to remove rust from your vehicle before it spreads out.

Check these rust-prone areas in your car:

  • Frame
  • Screws and bolts
  • Engine parts
  • Muffler
  • Fuel tank
  • Clutch
  • Brake pads
  • Fenders
  • Trunk
  • Chassis
  • Wheel wells

6. Slippery Brakes

After being immersed in floodwater, brakes tend to lose grip because of the loss of contact between the brake pads and the wet brake rotors. Step on the brake pedal repeatedly before you drive on. If it feels slippery, have a mechanic inspect your car brakes.

7. Contaminated Fluids

Water in the transmission, brake fluid, power steering, and coolant reservoirs can spell trouble for your car’s performance. These parts will get damaged due to corrosion and lack of lubrication. For instance, when floodwater is mixed with fuel, fuel injectors, spark plugs, and the engine will be seriously damaged.

So check your car’s fluids in the fuel filter and tank, as well as the power steering, coolant, clutch, and brake fluid reservoirs for floodwater contamination.

Final Thoughts

An Acts of Nature or Acts of God coverage is extremely important for car owners in the Philippines. When your ride gets flooded, you can file a claim for repair or replacement. Take photos of your flood-damaged car and talk to your insurance provider to know what kinds of repairs are included in your car insurance plan. Does it include replacement of fluids and electrical parts or cleaning of the interiors? If your car insurance covers repairs for a flooded car, file your claim as early as possible.

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