Archive for the ‘flood’ Tag

What to do if your car is in a flood

Ten steps to assess and address the damage

Immersion in water can wreak havoc with a car, especially the engine, electrical system, and interior. If your car has been immersed in water more than halfway up its wheels, follow these ten steps to assess and address the damage.

1. Do not attempt to start the car! It’s tempting to turn the key and see if the car still works, but if there is water in the engine, attempting to start it could damage it beyond repair. I’ve outlined a few basic checks below, but if in doubt, its best to have the car towed to a mechanic.

2. Determine how deep the car was submerged. Mud and debris usually leave a waterline on the car, inside as well as out. If the water didn’t rise above bottom of the doors, your car will probably be fine. Most insurance companies will consider the car totaled (damaged beyond economically-reasonable repair) if water reaches the bottom of the dashboard.

3. Call your insurance company. Flood damage is generally covered by comprehensive (fire and theft) insurance, so even if you don’t have collision coverage, you may be covered for repairs or replacement.

Your insurance company will probably be flooded (sorry) with claims, so it’s a good idea to start the process early. (More about floods and car insurance)

4. Start drying the interior. If water got inside the car, mold will grow quickly. Start by opening the doors and windows and putting towels on the floor to soak up water, but you should plan on replacing anything that got wet, including carpets, floor mats, door panels, seat padding and upholstery. Remember, these repairs are likely to be covered by your comprehensive insurance.

5. Check the oil and the air cleaner. If you see droplets of water on the dipstick or the level of the oil is high, or if the air filter has water in it, do not attempt to start the engine. Have it towed to a mechanic to have the water cleared and the fluids changed. (Hard-core do-it-yourselfers can try changing the oil then removing the spark plugs and cranking the engine to blow out the water, but we still recommend leaving this to a mechanic.)

6. Check all the other fluids. Fuel systems on late-model cars are usually sealed, but older cars may need to have their fuel systems drained. Brake, clutch, power steering and coolant reservoirs should be checked for contamination.

7. Check all of the electrical systems. If the engine looks OK to start, check everything electrical: Headlights, turn signals, air conditioning, stereo, power locks, windows and seats, even the interior lights. If you note anything even slightly amiss — including the way the car runs or the transmission shifts — that could be a sign of electrical trouble. Take the car to a mechanic, and remember that the damage may be covered by insurance.

8. Check around the wheels and tires. Before attempting to move the car, look for debris lodged around the wheels, brakes and underbody. (Set the parking brake before crawling around the wheels!)

9. If in doubt, push to have the car totalled. A flood-damaged car can experience problems months or even years after the event. If your car is a borderline case, consider pushing your insurance company to declare the car a total loss. Replacing it will cost money, but you may save yourself from some major (and expensive) headaches down the road.

10. Beware of flood-damaged replacements. Many cars that are totaled due to flooding are simply cleaned up and re-sold. Before buying a used car, have the title checked; words like “salvage” and “flood damage” are giant red flags. Get a comprehensive history on the car — if the car has been moved from another state and re-titled (especially a state that has been subject to flooding just before the title change), the seller may be trying to hide flood damage.

Read more at: http://cars.about.com/od/adviceforowners/a/What-To-Do-If-Your-Car-Is-In-A-Flood.htm

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Flood Safety Tips

Floods can occur anywhere, with floodwaters rising gradually or flash floods striking suddenly. Flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the United States — most flood fatalities happen because people try to drive through deadly waters rather than avoid them. (Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2005)

Water’s powerful force can easily overtake vehicles caught in a flood. Follow these tips to stay safe in your car during a flood.

How to Drive in a Flood

Pay attention to barricades.
Don’t ignore them by driving past them.

Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots.
The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water, and roads covered by water are prone to collapse. Attempting to drive through water also may stall your engine, with the potential to cause irreparable damage if you try to restart the engine. If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route.

Take extra precautions if you’re forced to drive through water.
If no alternate route exists and you have no other reasonable alternative but to drive through standing water.

– Do your best to estimate the depth of the water (if other cars are driving through, take note of how deep the water is).

– Drive slowly and steadily through the water.

– Avoid driving in water that downed electrical or power lines have fallen in — electric current passes through water easily.

– Watch for items traveling downstream — they can trap or crush you if you’re in their path.

– If you have driven through water up to the wheel rims or higher, test your brakes on a clear patch of road at low speed. If they are wet and not stopping the vehicle as they should, dry them by pressing gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.

– Stay off the telephone unless you must report severe injuries.

– If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. Keep in mind that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the engine.

– If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground. Try to open the door or roll down the window to get out of the vehicle. If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so that they may call for help.

Read more at: http://www.progressive.com/vehicle-resources/flood-safety/