5 things to do (and not do) if your car has been flood-damaged

30th Aug 2017 4:36 pm

Flood damage is a serious problem with cars, but these tips can help you minimise the damage.

Whether you blame it on global warming or just the vagaries of weather, flash floods are an unavoidable part of today’s reality. An unexpected bout of torrential rainfall brought Mumbai to a grinding halt just last week, while on the other side of the globe, the US is still reeling from the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Harvey while simultaneously prepping for the expected onslaught of Hurricane Irma. Flooding can cause a lot of damage to your possessions, not least of all to your car. If you are unlucky enough to have your car submerged in flood water, there are a bunch of things you should and should not do to minimise the damage inflicted upon your car.

1. Don’t start the car!
Your car is a complex ecosystem of electrical systems, fluids and mechanical parts that work best when kept water-free. Giving your car ignition sets off all sorts of electrical charges and mechanical processes, all of which could go horribly wrong if combined with water. Your best bet is to get it towed to a mechanic.

2. Check the level of submersion:
Flooding will inflict damage to your car only if it is submerged beyond a particular level. Check for the waterline left behind by the dirt in flood water. If submersion is below door-level, you’re probably good to go. Any higher and you may need professional intervention.

3. Dry the interior out:
If water has gotten into the cabin, try your best to get it out. Crank open the windows, use towels and newspapers to soak up water. It doesn’t take long for mould to start developing in moist conditions, so consider replacing your carpets, seat covers, etc.

4. Check the mechanical systems:
If DIY is your mantra, poke around your car to look for water contamination. Check the oil dipsticks for water droplets, ensure the air filter is dry and make sure that the brake fluid, power-steering fluid, fuel system, etc., are water-free; your car depends on the sanctity of these fluids to function properly. However, if you aren’t too mechanically proficient, we strongly urge you to get your mechanic to check everything out. 

5. Get in touch with your insurance company:
If you have a comprehensive insurance policy for your car – you ideally should – then most damage inflicted by floods will be covered by it. Let your insurance company know that your car has been flood-damaged and a claim will be coming their way. They will guide you to the nearest authorised workshop to have inspections, repairs and replacements carried out. Insurance companies, and workshops authorised by them, tend to be inundated with orders in the aftermath of widespread flooding, so try to get in touch with them as soon as possible. 

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