Flood water and cars aren’t the best of friends. In fact, it’s possible to write a car off by driving it through flood water that’s too deep. But even if you don’t get stranded in deep water, it’s still worth giving your car a once over after you’re away from deep water. Here’s what to look out for.
Check your brakes
First thing’s first, after driving through flood water, check your car’s brakes. More often than not, particularly if your car has disc brakes, the brakes will work immediately. But it’s worth trying them as soon as you can. Pushing the pedal causes the pad to rub against the disc, wiping off any water. So when you need to slow down, you know the brakes will work.
How is your engine behaving?
Engines are surprisingly robust yet delicate all at once. Drive through water that’s too deep and the engine could swallow water through its air intake and suffer what’s known as hydrolock. This is when water gets into the engine’s internals causing pistons to seize.
There are a number of ways you can check your engine. Listen to how it’s running. If it sounds rough and isn’t pulling the car along as you’d expect, stop and inspect further.
Look at the dipstick. Does it have water droplets on it? Or if you lift off the oil filler cap, and there’s a milky substance – often called mayonnaise – there could be water in the engine. Should either of these checks show evidence of water, don’t just push on. Get the car checked by a professional.
What about the electronics
A modern car’s electronics are pretty waterproof but there’s no guarantee they’ll withstand a good dunking. Again if your car is misfiring, it may be an electrical problem. Or some of the car’s electrically controlled features such as windows or the air con may not be working properly. Again, it’s worth getting the car checked over by a pro.
Are your carpets wet?
Depending on how deep the water you’ve driven through is, the interior of your car may have got damp. Check the front footwells as these are usually the lowest point inside a car. It’s also worth giving the boot a once over.
The easiest way to find out if a car interior has got wet is to lift the carpets. Beneath these, cars have a dense material that’s used to deaden sound. It’s also very good at soaking up water. If this is wet, you need to pull it out and let it dry.
That said, this is easier said than done and you may well be best off getting a professional to do it. They can then do the job properly with a dehumidifier that ensures the condensation that builds up in hard-to-reach places after a soaking is thoroughly dried out.