Flood Car Horror: How to Respond

Flood car challenges and what to do about it.

Talk about a wake-up call: You are breezing through what looks like a shallow puddle when, surprise, it is more like a mini lake. And just like that, your engine is at risk of taking on water. Whether you get blindsided by a downpour that turns your route into a makeshift pool, or you stumble upon a road that is suddenly playing host to a wayward stream, it is clear—cars and deep water do not mix.

But hey, we have all been there, right? One minute your are on a road, the next it is a waterway. If this happens, try to keep your cool. Here is the lowdown on how to navigate the wet stuff without losing your engine to the depths.

flood car

Keep Your Cool

It does not matter if your ride is a tiny hatchback or a beast of an SUV, water is a force to be reckoned with. If you are past the point of no return, the key is to not freak out. Here is what you must do to dodge a swamped engine. If it is safe—and I mean really safe—kill the ignition. Let’s say you are smack in the middle of a parking lot that is more ‘splash zone’ than ‘parking spot’. If that’s the case, switch off that engine quickly and get on the line with a tow service or, if you are up for it, push the car out yourself. Once you are on dry land, check for any water that might’ve snuck inside and start the drying process pronto.

Stuck in a current? Focus on getting out safely more than anything. A little bit of moving water can have a big impact, and a foot of it can send your car floating off like a rubber ducky. Car conked out? Time to abandon ship and perch on the roof while you wait for help.

Take it Slow and Steady

If you decide to push through or back it out, remember—slow is your friend. Treat that accelerator like you would someone’s sleeping cat: you would not stomp on it, would you? Nah, you would be gentle. The same goes for when you are driving through water. Too much speed and you will send a wave towards your engine bay that could end in tears—and a hefty repair bill. Ease up on the gas, and you will glide through that puddle like it’s no big deal.

Check for Signs of Trouble

Water and engines? They are not exactly BFFs. Water getting sucked through the air intake can lead to ‘hydrolock‘—mechanic speak for your engine throwing in the towel. That happens when water, which can’t be compressed like air, stops the pistons in their tracks. The damage can be brutal, turning your engine into a hunk of metal fit for a museum display. It can go down in seconds.

Even a little moisture in the wrong place can cause hiccups for your engine. After reaching safety, take a peek at your air intake. If it is dry as a bone up top, you are probably in the clear. But if you spot dampness down low, near the bumper, that is your cue to worry, especially if you had your car doing its best submarine impression.

When in Doubt, Get it Checked Out

If you have that nagging feeling something is off after your car took a dive, trust it. When your car starts acting strangely, or you suspect the intake might have had a drink, it is wise to err on the side of caution. Make your way to a local mechanic or an auto parts store for a comprehensive inspection. They will investigate whether any water has settled in places it should not and will inspect the electrical components of your car as well. Should you have ventured into deeper waters, it may be necessary to examine all your fluids, such as oil and transmission, to ensure they are free of water. It is always prudent to err on the side of caution, particularly when it concerns your vehicle.

See AlsoFlood Cars and How to Avoid Them

Image under license from Adobe Stock Photo.

Bailey Eyard
Author: Bailey Eyard
Bailey Eyard crafts engaging consumer stories for a renowned regional publication. Holding a B.A. in Journalism from Seton Hall University, she is now advancing her studies with an M.A. in Marketing Communications at UNC Wilmington. Residing on North Carolina's Pleasure Island with her husband and trio of children, Bailey cherishes seaside moments with her loved ones and is passionate about windsurfing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *