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Parking your car in a safe place and practicing good driving is usually all you have to do to protect it. Sometimes, however, nature can get in the way. Flooding is one of the most difficult situations to handle if your car is affected.
Water damage can render a car unusable and drop its resale value through the floor. If you know how to react when floodwaters rise, though, you can minimize the damage to your vehicle. If you have the bad fortune of being caught in a flood with your car, here’s what you should do.
Don’t Wait to Report it
Unlike a traffic accident that can sometimes be simpler to resolve out-of-pocket, you’re likely to have major damage from flooding. Many insurance companies cover flood damage, but because of the number of claims made at one time, you might have to wait for service. Begin the process early and share all the information you have with your insurance company to move things along and have your claim honored as quickly as possible.
Treat Your Car With Caution
Do not start a car that was exposed to floodwater without giving it a thorough going-through. Your first mechanical order of business should be to disconnect the battery. If the vehicle is not close to home, have it towed before you do any additional work. Next, open the windows to begin drying the car out. Change the engine oil and check the fuel system for signs of contamination.
Look for a high-water line on the car’s exterior, and check your air filter for signs of damage. If it appears the vehicle has taken water through the intake, you may need to clear the engine before the car runs properly, or you may have permanent damage. You can remove the spark plugs and ignition coils and use the car’s starter motor to rotate the crank assembly and force out any water in the combustion chambers. However, if the vehicle was running when water was taken in, you may need to replace the engine altogether.
Assess the Damage
In some cases, the right combination of drying equipment and new electrical components can restore a car to good working order after a flood. However, you should note that vehicles that have been flood-damaged are required to carry a special indicator on their title. Because water is so difficult to get out of a car, it can significantly reduce the value of your vehicle.
If the car is too damaged to continue using, such as if it’s infested with mold, you should declare it a total loss. This scenario is why you need to have good insurance that includes flood protection if you live in an area that gets regular flooding. With the right coverage, a proactive person can have the car replaced and be back on the road in a matter of weeks. If you don’t have it, you could be stuck with the bill to repair a badly damaged vehicle or replace it outright.
Flood damage is serious, so get your vehicles to high ground if there’s a chance of flooding. Always invest in insurance before something bad happens so if you need it, you have the protection.