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Driving through puddles can kill your car

During a storm, cars and trucks are safest in a covered garage, or away from trees that might topple over.

But many vehicles are damaged after a storm, when drivers try to navigate deep puddles of standing water.

Driving through water can damage:

Engine intake system. Water in the intake system ultimately gets into the cylinders, in which pistons compress air. But water doesn’t compress, and the resulting pressure inside the engine can bend piston rods or crack the engine block. Either essentially ruins the engine.

Transmission. Water makes the gears slip.

Brakes. If the rotors are extremely hot, exposure to water can warp them. The result is your car will vibrate when you try to brake. Water may get into the brake lines and cause brake failure immediately or later, when you least expect it. Brake specialists suggest that, after rolling through deep water, drivers pump their brakes to squeeze water from the pads.

Interiors. Water in the driver and passenger compartment ruins carpets, upholstery and the foam in the seats.

Electronic systems. Many manufacturers install automobile computers in the floorboards and under the seats. Water damage to these components can result in all sorts of electrical and electronic problems.

The damage caused by a flooded vehicle is not always immediately apparent.

If your vehicle has been damaged by flooding, you should not start the engine. That could cause more damage. The best thing is not to drive the car at all and call a mechanic and have the vehicle towed in for an inspection.

If your car is flooded:

Check with your insurance agent to verify extent of coverage before repairs begin.

If your car stalled because of flooding, have a mechanic look at it before you restart it. A car might start up after a dousing, but problems with certain systems – water in brake lines, for instance – might not show up until later.

If you have been driving through flood water, even if your vehicle seems fine, take time to check it over before driving it again.

First, walk around your vehicle looking for any obvious scratches, bumps, cracks or things hanging off.
Next, check the interior for damage. Look at the upholstery, carpets and door panels for areas of damp. If you find damp patches, don’t be tempted to just leave them to dry out – this will result in a rather unpleasant musty, damp smell. Instead, take your vehicle to a garage and have it professionally cleaned and dried.
Check the engine oil and transmission fluid. If the fluid on the dipstick looks diluted, milky or beige, then water has got in. It is advisable not to drive your vehicle at this point, as it may cause further damage to the internal components of the car. Instead, have it towed to your nearest garage for repair.
Check the air filter. If it is damp, replace it and change the oil.
Take a bit of time to look underneath the vehicle for stuck-on dirt, mud, grass and bits of debris. If you spot any, wash it off as soon as possible to avoid it causing damage to the undercarriage.
The brake system is crucial so it is best to take it to your nearest garage to have it professionally checked.
Check the lights and indicators for rust and water damage. If there is water in them, replace the bulb.
While the engine is running, listen for any abnormal running sounds, and have them checked out as soon as possible.

Remember – It is better to go through the time and costs of checking your vehicle now, rather than wait until the vehicle is in need of greater repair, or causes an accident.

Daks Toyota will always support you every step of the way.



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  • Braden Bills
    August 10, 2020, 1:09 pm REPLY

    My engine got watered down after a really bad storm, and I’m not sure what to do. It makes sense that it wouldn’t be safe to use right now! It would probably be a good idea for me to get some replacement parts for it. That way, I can ensure that it works properly.

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  • Eli Richardson
    March 31, 2021, 9:44 pm REPLY

    I’m glad you talked about how rain and storms could damage your car. Recently, one of my cousins purchased a new car, and he loves it. I’m not sure if he’s aware of how to care for a car during a storm, so I’ll be sure to share this article with my cousin. Thanks for the tips on what to do if your car suffers from flood damage.

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