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Car Blog & Car News

Water & Flood Driving Advice

by Fraser · 72 comments

in Safety & Security

It is likely through the winter months that you will encounter some flood water, either as large puddles on the road, or where a river/stream has burst its banks.

Take a different route where possible.

Never drive through flood water when you cannot see the ground under the water. It could be far deeper than you imagine, and if it is a river in flood there is a danger you and your vehicle could be swept away.

  • On encountering flood water, get out and check the depth. Water which comes above the bottom edge of your door can cause problems with the engine. Water can get splashed up into the engine compartment, leading to stalling.
  • Drive slowly. Put your vehicle in 1st gear and maintain a very slow, steady speed. If you hit flood water at speed you will first lose control, then come to an abrupt stop.
  • If you do stall in deep water, get someone to tow you out. If you are unsure of the depth of the water, or if it is moving water, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Use your mobile phone to call for assistance.

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

  1. First, walk around your vehicle looking for any obvious scratches, bumps, cracks or things hanging off.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Check the air filter. If it is damp, replace it and change the oil.
  5. 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.
  6. The brake system is crucial so it is best to take it to your nearest garage to have it professionally checked.
  7. Check the lights and indicators for rust and water damage. If there is water in them, replace the bulb.
  8. 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.

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Maek Sloan August 19, 2008 at 11:51 am

I made a big mistake in driving the family Serena a 2.3 diesel into very deep water last Saturday 16th Aug. I got the bow wave going at the front but as the water got deeper the motor stalled. I did try to start it but it would not start. I did manage to get towed out, and tried to tow start the motor it seems to be locking the rear wheels it is rear wheel drive.
Can anyone give good advice on what to do next.
I have a little knowledge of cars.
Regards Mark

Mr Butterscotch August 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Hi Mark,

You should always, where possible, avoid creating the bow wave – you don’t want to create a bow wave as it can swamp your exhaust and cause the engine to stall.

Unfortunately, if your car is not coming back to life, then you may be in big trouble. It’s possible that the engine will require a complete strip down to remove any moisture.

If you have been operating the car for a while you could well end up with a cracked catalytic converter too. Bad news.

You could always try removing the spark plugs then turning the engine over as this may expel the water that’s causing a problem.

Regards,

Pamela Summers August 22, 2008 at 5:10 pm

car stall in flood water from Tropical Storm Fay. The car sounds if wants to turn over but it will not start. It is making a errrr sound when you try to starts. Please advise if need to dry out or have possibale damage the motor.

Martin November 22, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Can anyone define what depth of water consitutes a flood. What depth of water should one be able to drive a Volvo V70 D5 through?

Mr Butterscotch November 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Hi Martin,

I haven’t heard of a specific depth ever being described as a flood – however driving through ‘floodwater’ quite often constitutes around 4-3 inches of water.

As mentioned above, you don’t want to create a bow wave when entering water so slower is better.

If you are driving a V70 through water, I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. I couldn’t find exact stats but the XC version has much higher ground clearance than the standard model and it still wasn’t up there with Jeeps or other SUV/off road vehicles. Perhaps consulting your manual will give you a better idea of the ground clearance of the V70.

Jim December 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I recently stalled in a flood that about 6 inches deep. I had to have my CRV towed to my mechanic. He told me all it needed was to dry out and he checked everything. I told people this and they are surprised. Does this sound right?

Mr Butterscotch December 16, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Hi Jim,

The air intake on cars tends to be low down at the front. Not a good position (obviously) if you happen to drive through water. However, if very little water gets drawn in then there’s no reason that your vehicle couldn’t dry out – especially if you’re now driving it.

From the rear end, catalytic converters can crack if submerged. Perhaps some water merely went up the exhaust pipe and was forced out later.

To confirm that your mechanic is correct, check the engine oil and transmission fluid. They should be the colour you expect them. Discolouration (beige, milky or with any kind of buildup) could well indicate water has got in – in which case you may need to change the air filter and oil.

Do these checks and if everything checks out perfect then take your car for a run (in the dry) listening for any kinds of unusual noises from the engine.

Austin December 31, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Hi we have a toyota proud hybrid and was wanting to know if you drive them through flood water if it will do any thing to the hybrid battery.

Mr Butterscotch January 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Hi Austin,

That all depends on the location of the battery – but to be honest due to the metals that the battery is made of then I can’t imagine it would be put in a position where it could be exposed.

Think of the position of your standard car battery – as far as I know most hybrids put the needed battery in the back of the car. It should therefore be safe. Check your owner’s manual for confirmation of the location and possible risk factors.

Ryan July 21, 2009 at 11:50 am

Hi Mr Butterscotch, I drove my corsa 1.2 through some flood water that was about 5-6 inches high. I made it through no problem but now my car makes like a grinding/squeeling noise whenever I depress the clutch. Can you think of anything?

Mr Butterscotch July 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Hi Ryan,

A common culprit for squealing from a clutch is worn or seized bearings. Whether this is the root cause of the problem remains to be seen. As always, go immediately to a mechanic to have this checked over. Continuing to drive a car under undue stress can cause much more expensive problems to develop.

jacquedaw November 23, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I drove through a flood a couple of days ago. Now when it has been parked for a while and I start it up it feels like the back wheel has seized, I have to rev it up to get it moving, after it frees it drives okay but should I go and get it checked.

Mr Butterscotch November 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Hi Jacquedaw,

You don’t mention whether it’s a rear wheel drive or front wheel drive car, or how high the water level was. Is it possible that any water might have gotten into the engine? If so, that would explain the laggy response. I’d suggest a check from a reputable local garage explaining the symptoms. Whatever they charge you for the check will give you peace of mind but more importantly it’ll be cheaper than an engine rebuild. Think yourself lucky.

michelle November 25, 2009 at 9:17 pm

hi, my car was flooded when the drains over flowed. the water came into the car and if your was to put your feet on the floor in the back the water would of gone past your ankles. my insurance are saying that they can repair it but Im worried that the electrics are damaged and thinking of safety can the insurers actually repair my car.

Mr Butterscotch November 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Hi Michelle,

In order to protect themselves, insurers will go to quite extensive lengths to make sure that your car is not only safe but road legal. If your insurance company are offering the repair, I’d certainly go with it. However, make sure you do get a full statement from the auto electrician/mechanic listing what’s been repaired, as well as the likelihood of any further faults developing from the damage initially caused.

Rob December 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I recently went through a large puddle and feel that water has gone up my exhaust, i only have about 50% power. It sounds like water is in there as it gurgles when idling, will this water make its way out?

Ramim December 28, 2009 at 7:38 am

Hi i have a Mitsubishi lancer evo 7 and my gf today drove through about a knee deep worth of flood water. I just had a look at it and there’s water inside he air filter. And I’m more than sure there’s also water inside the engine. I was wondering if i should go and get it checked out or is it something that I can sort out myself.

Mr Butterscotch January 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Hi Ramim,

Take your Evo 7 to the garage as soon as you can (and preferably a specialist). Highly tuned engines, such as the one in your car, can suffer catastrophic damage from water. A mechanic spending an hour looking at and sorting any problems will be far cheaper than the £5,000+ it’ll cost you for a new powerplant!

xraybeachy January 21, 2010 at 6:46 am

Hey,
I just came to my car and found approx. 1 inch of water in it. (It was raining really hard here in San Diego today, and apparently the area where I parked got flooded a little bit). I got most of the water out, but my speakers were making a crakeling sound, (they are probably busted). I managed to get the car running (via a jump start) but there is still a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe and I am not sure how serious it is. Any idea, if my catalytic converter could be busted. (I don’t assume it is cracked because the car was parked for a while when the water hit it).
Any suggestions. I plan to get it checked out in the next few days.

Alp Parandeh January 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

I drove my Volvo S60 D2.4 (2006) through about 5 to 6 meters long of water which was about 20 cm deep about 10 days ago. Unfortunately I was told to drive through it as fast as I could. The car entered the water and stalled just before coming out. Then i was told to try and start the car. We tried a good 10 times until battery died.

Then the car was toed away. The following day the mechanic looked at it. removed the heating elements and the air filter which was soaked. We started the car with the heating elements out to get the water out.

The we left the car to dry for 1 week and just yesterday, we started to car.

The engine started fine, sounds fine and runs fine. It took sometime for the exhuast to clear.

The car seems to be fine now, but it does not have the previous power it did and if I press on the accelator and it comes up with the message check engine. But then when you switch the car off and back on again and if you do not push the car to speed up fast it will go to whatever speed, but never with the boost of power it did. I know my previous BMW had a turbo charger, but I have been told that the Volvo S60 Diesel doesn’t have a turbo charger.

Does anyone have any idea what it can be? Can the engine be damaged, even though it is running OK and sounds fine?

Jennifer January 27, 2010 at 3:37 am

Just a couple of days ago I drove my BF volvo s70 through a deep puddle of water. I didnt realize it at first but it was so deep that as i drove through it some water came up on the hood of the car. I drove fine for a day but all of a sudden the “check engine ” light came on and now its having some trouble turning over when it is first turned on. I have to really step on the gas to get it to start properly. Could it possible have engine damage. I want to take it to a volvo dealer to have it checked but I dont have the money and it usually costs an arm and a leg. Please help with any suggestions!

Mr Butterscotch January 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Jennifer,

Take it to the garage and ask if they’ll take a look and give you a free quote for any work that’s needed. This will then allow you to shop around. Potentially, by not having the work done, you may put yourself at risk of the car needing more expensive work done down the line.

Joe Bailie February 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Hi there,

I recently drove my car – Peugeot 307- through a flood and obviously the worst happened and the car was completely dead! luckily with dad being a mechanic i was able to get the engine replaced, but should i notify my insurance company? or get the V5 log book updated?

Just worried that in the case of an accident that with the change of engine, insurance would be void? :(

flooded March 17, 2010 at 1:59 am

a few hours ago i got my 2000 jeep grand cherokee stuck in a river in water that almost made it up to the doors the jeep stalled instantly and didn’t sound like it took in any water. i got it pulled out no more then ten minutes later and tried to start it and it didnt even try to turn over. what i want to know is should i leave it let it dry out then try to start it and go from there or take it to a mechanic because there doesnt seem to be any water in the oil or anything. i just want to know if my engine is screwed or is this just some complex electrical issue. P.S. this is a very handy website

sharon April 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm

hi i went threw a very large puddle the water came right into the car it was working for two days after it then my husband let it run for 4hours and it ran out of petrol now it wont start and ive put petrol in it

Casandra May 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

The parking lot of my apt flooded with water above the tires. The interior was flooded up to the steering wheel with water in the seats. I tried starting the engine with no luck. I’ve read that doing that is absolutely bad. Do you think there is any hope of getting it to work again? A friend suggested turning it over without spark plugs.

chris June 17, 2010 at 1:20 am

1999 grand am se 2.4 liter: drove in a large amount of water and now abs and trac control lights are going on every time I drive after a couple miles. I hope its not the main computer of the car that got wet. I have had it replaced before and it wasn’t cheap. Is there any way that if the car just dries it self that will go away? What would I pay attention to in order to have this solved?

Todd July 16, 2010 at 2:55 am

I drive a 2006 dodge charger on a rainy day. I drove down a flooded street and the car completely stopped and shut off. Now all the car does is make a clicking noise. All the windows and lights still come on and wrk. I wanted to know what the problem could be? Is the engine still good?

Danny July 21, 2010 at 9:57 am

HI I drove my Jag x-type manual petrol through about two foot of water yesterday and the engine stalled. I haventtried to start it today and have hhad it towed away to the garage has similar problem to the above.

josh July 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

hi the other night i was driving my 96 chrysler lhs and went down a flooded street 5 to 6 inches of water and it stalled out in the middle i did not try to start it after it stalled i checked all the fluids and they all look fine do i have to let it dry out then try to start it or take it to a shop ?

Sha'la August 11, 2010 at 5:32 am

I had my car serviced for a tune up and there was a flood the same day.

I drove my 2003 Lincoln Navigator through 4 feet of flood water recently and now it makes a very loud noise. I took it back to the same place who serviced it for the tune-up and they said that I have a hole in the side of my engine. How is that possible? They “claim” say it was no water in the air filter and no signs that I went through flood water. For that reason insurance will not pay for it. Is it possible they did something wrong and are trying to fault me? Could the insurance agent and the dealer be in cahoots? Could the flood water have caused a hole in the side of my engine? If not what could cause it? What advice would you give me next?

Joseph September 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I drove my Kia into about 3 feet of water about a year and a half ago. Supposedly the dealer replaced all the fluids in the vehicle and such. I recently had my vehicle serviced to change out my timing belt, do an engine flush and oil change and my mechanic said there is an awfully amount of sludge in my engine. I change my oil regularly and I’m just wondering if this could be an after effect of the flooding.

shewan October 3, 2010 at 8:22 am

I drove my citroen xzara pic through a large puddle which I didnt notice as it was dark and in a dip due to a considerable amount of rainfall. My car stopped all electrics went out, cannot even lock or close the windows. Have I caused some considerable damage?

ameen December 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

hi,
I have driven my caprice-v8 engine in flood water, first it stalled, then i tried to ignite again causing the engine to stall completely. When checked with mechanic he says the engine jammed and requires to replace with new engine. Can u advise the economical solution.

Mel February 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I drove my 3 week old honda jazz through a flash flood on the way home… im not sure how deep it was but i noticed the car(s) in front of me had almost their entire tyres in the flood water… i managed to drive home with the inside of my car completely dry and nothing happened on the way while i driving either ie it didn’t stall or anything…. i’m just wondering if that is a good indicator that my car is ok?

nicho February 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Our 06 Honda civic got flooded last night from a drain. When we got in it this morning the front and back floor boards were really wet and our two front seats were just a lil wet. I’m about to take it somewhere to see if they can clean it out. How much will it run me? Should I turn it into our insurance?

NRJ March 8, 2011 at 12:40 am

Drove a 2002 Mercedes S430 automatic through a flooded exit off of the highway. Now when I turn left there is a grinding sound. When I turn right the sound is barely there. I have yet to tell my husband. Could something have rusted overnight? This happened in less than 24 hours. Thanks.

Marcus Chandler July 7, 2011 at 4:06 am

Hello,
Last night I drove my 2003 Saab 9-3 Vector in about six inches of water and when I was almost out of the puddle my car shut off. I tried to start the car and it was trying to turn over, but it never would. I pushed my car out of the puddle and parked it in a dry parking spot. I’m letting it sit over night, but I don’t know what to do. Can you please help me? I’m really worried, I’m 17 and I just bought my car I sure hope its nothing horrible. Please help thanks very much.

jordan lewis August 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

i foolishly drove through a fairly large puddle on a country lane going around 25mph as thought it would cause a bit splash before noticing it has effected my vehicle, everytime i turn the car on it makes an odd noise and also when i get the biting point a sort of crackling/grinding noise is present. I’m unsure what is wrong as was hoping you could provide me with information on what could of happened. Thank you very much for your help

Alyssa August 9, 2011 at 12:44 am

Hey,

About 3 days ago I drove into a puddle with my Chevrolet equinox. The puddle was very deceiving as the beginning was very shallow and once you realized you were in too deep it was too late to do anything but keep trucking trough. I did end up stalling and then as I go out the water was up to the bottom of my door. I was able to start it the next day. It was shifting very weird and stalling periodically when I was driving it around town. The next day it was driving perfectly fine an then the day after that the engine light finally kicked in and it is back to stalling every now and then. The mechanic can’t look at it for 2 weeks and unfortunately with my jobs I need a vehicle. Any tips or advice? Does it maybe just need to dry out some more? Help :(

sunshine kelly August 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm

What is hydrolock? I’m very worried my car is ruined, drove threw almost 3 feet of warter and my car stoped right as I was about to be clear. Driffted back in now
It will not start. Seats and mirrors will not move, was told to let it dry out..is vthat
At all true. Just as simple as letting it dry out I’m a rec.com, its a new car..ugggg

Jack September 6, 2011 at 12:19 am

I droved throught a puddle and my car stall out when I was in the puddle. I was in the puddle about five minuets before I got the cat out. Lights and all work but when I attemp to start I get a clicking noise it has been a couple of hours and it still want start just clicks. A friends says it is proboble my distributor which needs to dry out. What do you think.

carla September 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

i drove my car yesterday slowley through heavy rain and puddles. was fine yesterday but today i went to start it and have had no luck, it seems like its going to start but wont turn right over. i have a 1.8 petrol alfa romeo.
any ideas?
thanks

Brenda Realpe September 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I recently drove my car through a flooded area. I thought the depth of the water was much lower than it actually was. Now my horn and car lock horn sound very faint. Should I be concerned? If so what should I do? Thanks in advance for any help.

brian m October 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm

hi i have a peugoet partner van and drove through very high flood water 8-10 inches and stalled in the middle i got towed out..and wont start now what do you think the damage is???

Pete October 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

Hi,
I drive an 09 corolla xrs in which i have added a cold air intake system to as well as racing headers, downpipe, and cat-back exhuast system. Last night as i was coming home i was on the highway at a time when nobody else was on it, i ended up going through a huge puddle that i would say was about 8-10 inches deep. Now, as soon as i hit the water i made sure to take my foot off of the gas pedal as quickly as possible. Even after i rolled through the water i did not accelerate the car, i pretty much coasted to the nearest exit and got to the stop sign trying to make sure any water in any crevace leaked back out. Everthing seemed fine, until the morning, when i went to start the car and there was a loud almost roaring sound that happened on the cold start. It sounded as if i had a huge crappy 5′ cannon installed for my exhaust outlet(which i most curtently do not) and after the loud noise my engine started idling way higher than normal(about 2k or 2.5k). I then waited until there was no more unusual revving and i had hit the point of normal idling, at this point is where i began to hear a vibration/rattling noise. The noise seemed like it was coming from under the car and i did not feel anything on my foot through the gas pedal. As i get through to higher gears and speeds there is no more rattle. I have no idea what the problem may exactly be. I will be taking my baby to my mechanic ASAP though i want to know what to be expecting. Thanks!

ronnie October 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm

hi, i drove my 2007 ford focus through a puddle tonight and when i got home the alarm started to sound with the wipers going intermitantly, without the key in the igniton.. it drive ok its just when it is sitting in the drive the indicators are coming on and wipers are starting/stopping. i have disconnected the battery at the minute. anybody any ideas?

ciccio November 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm

ho una mercedes 270 e avangard 2002,disel.
sono finito in una grossa pozzanghera piena d’acqua,l’auto si e’ spenta e non e’ piu’ ripartita.
cosa gli e’successo?

Del November 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Hi Ronnie,

Did you ever get an answer to your problem? I have just done exactly the same thing after hitting a puddle that I didn’t see.

Regard

Del

big rigger December 7, 2011 at 2:45 am

Mr Butterscocth my girlfriend recently drove her 2009 Dodge Magnum thru a flooded street. she tried to crank the car numerous times until the battery went dead. I had the vehiche towed and the battery rechared but i only hear a click when i try to start it> the air filter was soak and wet and i had pump water out of each cylnder. no matter what i do,the car still only gives me a click. Could it be that my engine is blown?

Ryan Furse December 12, 2011 at 2:31 am

Yesterday my ’98 Dodge Durango fell through ice and into a pond. It was submerged up to the manifold on the engine, but water never got into the intake. It sat in the water for about an hour before we could pull it out. After I drained the oil and tranny, and refilled them up and put on new filters my car wouldn’t stay running for more than 5 sec while in idle. I got the engine temp to 190 (which is normal from what I hear) and soon after it died again. Any reason as to why it wont idle even after I burned all the water away.

Dion Rushe December 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I drove through a puddle a few inches deep at about 30mph in my 1999 1 litre VW Polo and the car gradually cut out and not it will not start again. Does anybody know what the damage may be? I’m hoping to let it dry overnight and see if it starts in the morning. Thanks.

darlane January 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm

My car was parked in the street in front of my house. I went outside to look at my car and the inside is wet from the water rising when it was raining. I have a Chevy Malibu and from what I can tell from the grass and dirt where the water rose up to, it was up to my bumper.Can I start my car? Should I wait for awhile? I don’t know if water can get into the engine if it wasn’t started. Thanks, Darlane

Mat Lemmings January 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

OK, so this might help others:

Two weeks ago I got my 1993 BMW 740i E32 (4 litre V8) stuck in floodwater. Ended up taking water into the engine and exhaust, not to mention about 2 inches inside from front to back!

Here’s how we fixed it – note that I am not a professional mechanic and you try this at your own risk – it’s simply my documenting the process we followed to rescue my car:

1. DO NOT TRY TO RESTART THE ENGINE WITH SPARK PLUGS IN. This is just about the worst thing you can do!

2. Let the engine bay drip-dry overnight to ensure there’s no major water ingress into the under-the-hood electrics. Remove the spark plugs from the engine and remove the air filter unless it’s absolutely bone dry.

3. Turn the engine over on the starter. This will expel any water that’s been taken in. Do this 6 or 7 times until the engine turns over with no sign of anything being sprayed out.

4. Clean the plugs and re-install them.

5. Now, try and start the engine. If you’re lucky (I was), it should fire fairly quickly, though it might sound like a bag of spanners for a while especially if you got a lot of water in the exhaust. When we got my engine started, about a gallon of water shot out of the exhaust in 5 seconds!

6. Let the engine idle for 5 minutes and listen for any obvious misfires. Use this opportunity to check that all the belts etc. are functional. You’ll probably get *a lot* of white smoke from the exhaust – don’t panic it’s only steam as the water taken in starts to evaporate as the exhaust gets hot.

7. If you’re good so far, now is the time to change the engine oil and oil filter. Install a new air filter at the same time.

8. Now fire her up again, repeat the idle process then once the oil is at temperature slowly increase the engine speed up to about 5k (or 1k below whatever your motor red-lines at) – again expect a lot of steam from the exhaust.

9. In daylight, take the car for a short, slow, test drive on private ground or straight road and check the brakes/transmission. Try not to use anything electrical (indicators, lights etc.)

10. If water got into the car (if the carpets are damp, it did!) run a dehumidifier for 3 days or longer if necessary until the carpets are bone dry to the touch. I got a good 15 pints out of mine over 4 days *after* mopping up the obvious surface water with towels.

11. Now, test the electrics. Lights, indicators, etc. Take the car for another short, slow test run testing everything as you go.

12. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you got away with it! You now need to take the car for a long run to get the exhaust fully up to temperature for a long period to help clear any residual water trapped in there. I would suggest at least 3 or 4 50 mile journeys within a couple of days. You’ll probably see the steam for some time and don’t forget to take your breakdown membership with you in case it goes horribly wrong.

Good luck!

peter d January 23, 2012 at 8:15 am

i tryed to cross a river crossing with my honda crv 97′ and got stuck in about 2 foot of water then tryed reversing out but got nowhere then my car stalled tryed to start again in panick but didnt work got pulled out about 4hours later and the tow guy told me to try jump starting it and then it started, drove it home about 14km then it stalled again, i let it dry right out then removed spark plugs and sprayed all connections with wd40 turned the engine over without spark plugs then changed oil and filter, it started again but is extemly ruogh running and idling very low and abnormal and backfires sumtimes! any one know the reason for this? please help as im not the richest of people and cant get to work without my vehcile?

steph January 24, 2012 at 3:20 am

i drove my 2002 ford focus through a big puddle of water and now my car squeals! i thought that if i gave it time to dry it would go away but that happened about 8 hrs ago and it still does it! do you think my belt is bad?

Kendra January 26, 2012 at 3:12 am

HELP! I have a Nissan Maxima and I (accidently) drove through a puddle about 20 feet long and 1 to 2 feet deep. Car made it through (barely) but soon stalled afterwards. I was able to restart it after a couple tries. A few hours later I drove a little bit and notice a grinding sound from just the right front side only when I turned left. Only grinded when I made a hard turn. If I turned slow and wide I could not hear it. Also, I replaced my wheel bearing and cv joint on this side about 3 months ago. Did driving through the water cause damage to my newly replaced wheel bearing? Why would it only grind on one side??

Mr Butterscotch January 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Hi Kendra,

Have you checked the plastic liner/wheel arch to ensure it is free from dirt and not bent? I know of a similar case where on a turn the driver could hear grinding. It was the result of the wheel coming into contact with the plastic. If you have a garage nearby ask for an inspection. Just make sure to view any stated damage/problems yourself prior to agreeing to work being carried out.

Kali Washington February 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Okay I drove my 01′ toyota corolla in some water on a rainy day & a mile later in the middle of traffic my car completely shut off and then 30 minutes later as soon as i pushed my car off the road it turned back on. But every since that happened every time my car idles my hood starts to rattle and shake. I’m scared it might happen again what should i do?

Pauline bateson February 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I got an mot wash and when I went to get back info the car the central locking was broke and the radio would not turn off when I took out the key. The car now won’t start. Was the damage done by the car wash. It has never been in a garage for any problem before this happened.

Ashley Mitchell February 21, 2012 at 12:31 am

I took my Nissan 350 z a couple of days ago down a flooded road when I went through it sounded like the engine wanted to stall so the next day I felt like my car didn’t act right what could be wrong with it can any give me advice before I found out its a major problem?

Mr Butterscotch February 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

Ashley,

Find a good local mechanic who will look over your car for free. You may need a good service to flush out any water as a bare minimum.

MWANGALA IMBULA March 11, 2012 at 8:22 am

I DROVE MY TOYOTA CARINA 2.0 PETROL ENGINE IN A LOT OF WATER,AS I WAS ABOUT TO EXIT THE WATER THE CAR STOPPED AND UP TO NOW IT CAN NOT START ,IT ONLY COMES ON BUT ENGINE CAN NOT FIRE .LIGHTS ARE OK BUT ENGINE JUST CUTS OFF WHEN I TRY TO START IT CAUSING EVEN BATTERY TO GO DIM.ADVISE ON WHAT COULD BE THE CAUSE AND WHAT CAN BE DONE.

jay March 16, 2012 at 7:46 am

Hi I drove my hyundai sonata through a semi deep puddle it won’t start now and I can’t get it out of the park gear to push it. What do I do? This just happened

chris April 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Re: Comment regarding floodwater driving Techniques.

If possible avoid at all costs, a large number of floodwater deaths annualy are attributed to people driving into floodwater.

Ideally, creating a bow wave and then keeping up with the bow wave is the optimal way of crossing floodwater in a vehicle, this will be usually about a fast walking pace. This does a couple of things, the breaking bow wave creates a compression wave around the engine bay, keeping as much of the engine dry as possible, but also helps you maintain momentum. In a car 1st gear, DO NOT slip the clutch. In a 4wd with Hi/lo ratio, usually 2nd low and diff lock/4wd engaged

If you do have to cross floodwater in a vehicle, make sure it is static, 12 inches of water moving at 3mph is more than enough to cause your car to move!

Your car is not designed to be amphibious, I off road and spend lot of time on my land rover making it as waterproof as possible, raised air intake, raised breathers for axles/gearboxes/fuel tank/fuel pump/timing case, and will happily wade up to the bottom of the windscreen in non moving water.- your car has none of these! The position of the air intake and various other breathers on a normal car is often low down at the front of the engine bay- as such it is likely to ingest water- which will likely destroy your engines internals. In addition, complex wiring does not appreciate a dunking!

If you end up marooned in water and your car has stopped, it is possible to engage 1st gear and crank the starter over whilst slipping the clutch in oreder to move the car clear. the chances are this will also do your engine/battery/wiring absolutely no favours but if it got you clear of the water it could save your life.

If your vehicle has ingested water, and is petrol, you can remove the air filter and associated pipework, and drain, then remove your spark plugs and turn the engine over to disperse any water- this MAY get you running again assuming thre is no other damage. With a diesel the procedure is similar, but instead of the spark plugs you will need to remove the injectors and turn the engine over then reassemble.

Kathy May 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I was driving in dangerous thunderstorm, pulled off to the side of the road which was only dirt gully out in the Texas hill country, changed my mind and tried to get back on the road but I was stuck! Left my car and hitched a ride into town, car was towed about an hour later, tow truck driver said water filled up my front seat. Insurance company hasn’t looked at it yet but is saying highly likely to be a total loss. Should I argue with them or make sure of the damage before I accept their offer of total loss? It would be better for me if the car is still working, as replacement value is around $3000, I can’t buy anything decent for that.

hameed June 10, 2012 at 12:19 am

i drove my 1999 toyota corolla through a puddle that about 6 inc at about 50km ph and my car slowed down fast and showed me a hand break sign than i went through it slowley. the car was good for 3 days until my brother was driving it and he said when he was turning the the accelaration wouldnt go normal and its running like a donkey when pressing the accerlaration and get a engine light?????? it vibrates when you press the gas like i said like a donkey and i changed the oil like a week ago so i dont wanna spend another 300 buks on it

Mr Butterscotch June 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Hi Hameed,

It sounds that you may have taken some engine in thanks to the 6 inches of water. I’d suggest you take the car to a garage to be looked at by a suitably qualified mechanic as if you do not your bill may be more than the suggested 300 bucks in the long run.

Cheers

Gary

Macsuper July 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

Hi we had some flash flooding last Thursday and come Saturday I started to hear a kind of grinding/shudder when turning. The more acute the turning the more noticeable it is. It seems fine otherwise and no problem noticeable when driving forward. Its Tuesday now and the garage have just told me the earliest they can look at it is 1 weeks time!
Any thought on what the problem is and if I’m likely to cause damage by driving on it for a week?
Thanks i advance

irene July 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I got caught in a storm recently and ended up driving through some water that was deeper than I knew. It caused the battery light to come on for a few seconds and then go off several times. It never actually stalled. I was out in a storm recently, not nearly so bad and my car did the same thing, even though I avoided deep water. What do you think is wrong and what would be a reasonable amount to pay to see it fixed?

Gary Shaw October 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Mark, the running theme on this post is ‘if in doubt, get a technician to check it out’. By attempting to run the car when the water has made an ingress, you could cause further, much more expensive damage!

Take it to a local mechanic for a full work-up.

Cheers,

Gary

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