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Dealing With A Flood Damaged Car

Okay, we’ve all seen the damage from Hurricane Sandy, and we have all seen the news footage of cars submerged or half submerged in waterlogged streets. With all of the emphasis on the damage to homes and businesses, not much is made about the automotive end of things. What happens with those cars? Can they be salvaged? Will they have to be totaled? What are the chances of getting a flood damaged car repaired or replaced by something that is at least comparable?

According to Edmunds.com, some cars may survive flooding events just fine, while others may have sustained severe damage. It isn’t always easy to tell at first just what the situation with your car may be. Some people may be left with no choice but to drive the car and see if any problems develop later on.

To check your car for flood damage, start it up. Even if the car has been submerged for a time, this shouldn’t harm anything, and it is the only way to tell if the engine is going to work.  Let the car idle for several minutes before driving it; see how the engine behaves during that time.

Open up the doors, remove all of the floor mats, and allow the interior of the car to dry out as much as possible.  You may want to park it in the sunlight and put some fans around the car to speed up the drying process, since circulating air would go a long way toward heading off any potential problems with mold or mildew building up in the vehicle.  If the water is allowed to sit and soak, then your insulation and electrical wiring may be toast. Not good.

Speaking of the electrical system, that is the single most important element of the whole thing. Without it, even the nicest car is little more than a giant paperweight.  Electrical damage from water means that door switches and dashboard lights fail to work, and even the starter may be effectively destroyed.

The second biggest problem is the trunk, since it will obviously retain water for an extended period, it’s dark, little air circulation……and there’s that mold problem again.  You should remove everything in the trunk, including the spare tire, and try to dry up as much of the water as you can. Leave the trunk open to allow it to dry out.

Above all else, avoid filing an insurance claim until you are reasonably certain that the car is going to be totaled. If you think the car is okay at the moment, then write down the date of the damage, the extent of the damage, and any other details you can think of in case there are related problems that crop up later on.

Remember that your car is your second most expensive possession (for most of us anyway), and much like your house, you want it to be properly cared for, repaired, and restored if at all possible in the wake of a water damage problem.

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