The obvious signs of a flood-damaged car include wet upholstery and debris deposits on different parts of the car. However, some dangerous signs of damage may not be so obvious. Therefore, if your car was in a flood, you should scrutinize it for signs of damage even if they aren't obvious. Here are three checks you mustn't skip:
There are two main things that can tell you whether or not there is flood water in the oil. First, there may be water droplets in the oil or on the dipstick since water and oil don't mix well. You should also suspect water in the oil if the oil level is unusually high and you don't remember filling it to that level.
Don't start the engine if you notice either of those two things. The water will foam and reduce the lubrication and cooling capacities of the oil. Expect accelerated engine wear due to overheating and friction if you try running the car in such a condition.
Water conducts electricity, which means it can connect parts of an electrical circuit that should not be connected, resulting in a short circuit. A short circuit reduces the effectiveness of your electrical system and may even fry some circuits.
With electrical water damage, you don't have to identify a specific issue to take your car to the mechanic. Just test the electrical systems and take your car for diagnosis and auto repair if you notice anything amiss. For example, you should suspect an electrical problem if:
- The lights are flickering.
- The power windows are rolling erratically.
- The air conditioner is taking longer than usual to warm up the car.
- The car is difficult to start.
- Some dashboard lights don't light up.
If your car was flooded by clear water, there might not be debris to alert you to the presence of water in its interior. Therefore, the absence of debris doesn't mean much. Fortunately, you can use the odors from the interior of the car to tell whether water got inside and has now dried out. You should be suspicious if the car smells differently from its usual odors; musty smells are particular an indication that water may have stagnated in the car for some time.
If in doubt, it's best to err on the side of caution and have a mechanic examine your car before starting the engine. The good news is that most of the issues will be covered by your insurance coverage.