Home Automotive AdviceMotoring Laws and Legal Advice Water Damage Car – Will Your Insurance Policy Cover It?

Water Damage Car – Will Your Insurance Policy Cover It?

by Jordan Harris
water damage car

Water damage car is one of the worst things that can happen to an owner or a potentional buyer. Everything is fixable, but water damage is one of the worst things that can happen to a car.

Water damage is bad because it messes up all the electrical systems inside the vehicle. Getting your car flooded will probably cause every electrical device to malfunction and cause a major electrical problem.

The second thing that comes as a consequence of the flood is mold. If your car was flooded, mold will develop sooner or later. Water will go into the seats and carpets. Take note that this water is probably rainwater. So, if your car gets flooded you can expect that your car will develop some ugly mold and will smell bad.

If you have a water damage car. The first thing to do is to call your insurance company, they will take care of this issue for you. In this article, we are going to dive deep into this problem when you are dealing with a water damage car.

We shall discuss how you can prevent these issues from happening in the first place. Then we will take a look at the possible fixes, and the insurance guarantees when it comes to flooded cars. Lastly, we are going to mention how to detect a flooded car at an auction. This will be handy if you are trying to get a good deal at an auction.

Flood Damage

Flooding, along with hail is one of the most common natural disasters that can total your vehicle. This can be a problem. especially if you live in a place where floods, are a normal occurrence.

Thousands of cars each year are written off because of these natural disasters in the US. And billions of dollars are spent by the insurance companies to cover this type of damage (for more insight, check out our guide on how to cancel Progressive insurance).

Flooding may happen in different forms, your car can be flooded if you forget the windows are open, and that one is on you. Because you forgot to close the windows of your vehicle.

Flood Damage Car

Another type of flooding is caused by ignorance, some people just drive their cars into the water and their engine gets hydro-locked. This also totals the car. Because the engine is finished and also the whole interior may be ruined of the car altogether.

And the last type is submerging. For example, if you leave your car in a garage that is below ground level. The drains don’t do their work and your garage will fill up with water. This will cause your car to submerge underwater. But also depends on where the water level gets.

If it’s below the doors you are good, but if the water gets above the bottom end of the door, then you are in big trouble. This means that your electrical components will get damaged beyond repair. It is also a possibility that the water can get inside your engine. Especially if you give it a crank.

If you think that water has come so high to the air intake, don’t crank the car. Open the air filter box and replace the soaked air filter with a new one. If you don’t do this practice, it is a great possibility that you are going to hydro-lock your engine. After getting the engine hydro locked you are going to need a completely new engine to install. To find out more, check out our guide on the Hyundai Sonata engine replacement cost.

Do Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage

If your car gets flooded, the best idea is to go to your insurance company and file a claim on the damage. After you make a claim the insurance company will inspect the car completely and see the water damage. But take note that your car needs to have comprehensive coverage. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, you probably won’t get covered by the insurance.

They will check the oil dipstick and look if there is any water in the engine. Also, they will check the engine inside to see how extensive the damage is, they will check the interior and the whole electrical system if it works properly. And finally, they will make a decision if your car is repairable or if it’s a total loss.

If the flooding happened by natural causes and your car is completely flooded above the floorboards and on the inside, or the engine is hydro locked. Then it’s most probable that the car will be written off and you will get some money for your car, or a completely new car.

You will get money based on the market value of your vehicle. Depending much on the make and model and the year of production. If your car is brand new, you are probably going to get a new one, if it’s some old model you will get some money but not much. But it should be enough to get a running vehicle.

Certificate Of Destruction

After you file a request to the insurance company and they respond positively. They will probably total your car. That means if the total is caused by flooding, the car will be given a title or certificate for destruction.

This certificate of destruction means that the car cannot be road legal anymore, at least not in the US. This certificate will total out your car completely and could be only used for parts or it can be crushed.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an old vehicle or a brand-new vehicle, that is the law and you must comply with it. As an owner, you are probably going to be compensated for this, but the car will be taken away and sold at an auction for parts.

Water Damage Car

Flood Car Auction

Many of these cars that are totaled end in Copart or some other car auction place. If you are looking for a cheap buy over there, be aware that there are some cars that are flooded but don’t have a certificate for destruction. Some cars are not flooded high enough and these are not written off. These cars only get a rebuilt title.

If you are one of those people that are looking for a good deal, you should always be vigilant. Many cars are completely flooded and their new owners pay a whole fortune trying to fix them. The next thing they do is sell them again because they bought a flooded car.

The best thing to do when trying to get a salvage title vehicle is to inspect the car personally. Check if there is mold and check if it smells funky because this is a clear giveaway when it comes to flooded cars. If you notice that there is mold, run away from that car.

Because even if it starts and drives, the electricals are probably messed up and in the long run you will pay a lot of money to get this car sorted out.

Buying A Flooded Car

This is also an important thing to consider. Some of these cars are also ending up as clean title vehicles. There are places where you can get a title if you say that your title is lost, or they are sold with a bill of sale.

That’s what many of these scammers do. They get new titles for these flooded vehicles and then they rebuild them and resell them far from the state they were sold in the first place.

There were many reports about this practice and many people ended up with a flooded vehicles. If you want to avoid this, always perform a good inspection of the car you plan to buy. This is very important if you don’t want to end up with one of these cars.

If you really doubt that the car was flooded, remove the seats and also check the door panels for possible mold buildup. There you may find your issue.

How To Start A Flooded Engine

In this chapter we are going to discuss what measures you should take if your car gets flooded:

The first and most important thing is to not start the car, and wait for it to be inspected first. If you mess around with your car before the inspection you probably won’t get anything out of it.

The second thing to do is to call the insurance company and file a claim for your vehicle. After you file a claim, they will inspect the vehicle and make a decision about its status.

If your car is not insured then you are free to do anything with it. You can take it to the scrapyard, or simply save it and drive it again. And that’s what we are going to discuss in the next chapter.

How Much Does Insurance Pay For Water Damage

This is a good point and you will probably want to address the issue. A water damage car can be a big problem. In this chapter, we are going to discuss how you can solve this problem DIY.

How To Fix Flooded Engine

Water Damage Car

  1. The first thing you should do is to not crank your engine if your car was flooded above or slightly below the hood. Look at the flood line and see if the water line was above the air intake tube. If it was then open the airbox and replace the soaked air filter. By doing this you will ensure that your engine won’t get hydro-locked.
  2. Check the oil and transmission dipstick. Look for moisture on the dipstick. If you discovered a slight amount of moisture. Then you need to flush your fluids. By flushing your fluids, you will be sure that there is no water in the engine and transmission. This should be done relatively quickly because rust will start to develop immediately if there is some moisture inside.
  3. Unbolt your intake and see if there is any water there. If there is water in the intake then there is probably water also on the inside of the engine.
    If there is water on the intake then you should also remove the heads of the engine. By removing the head, you will make sure that there is no water in the cylinders.
  4. If there is water inside the cylinders, clean it off and put some engine oil in. This oil will make sure that your engine won’t seize. Put this oil in the cylinders and let it soak for a bit. Then the next step is to turn the engine over. This step will make sure that your engine is not seized up. If it turns then everything is ok. If it’s locked then your engine will probably need machine work or a replacement.

How To Tell If A Car Has Been In A Flood

  1. Now, look in the interior and see where is the waterline. Start unbolting and removing everything out of the car. You need to do this process because you don’t want mold to grow on the inside.
  2. You can start this process by opening your doors and unbolting the seats. Remove the seats out of the car.
  3. Let the seats dry in the sun and while they are drying, the next thing to do is to remove the carpets and the roof liner if the car was fully submerged.
  4. Take all of these parts and give them a nice pressure wash. This will clean all of the contaminants from the dirty water. If there are any spots of water clean them off.
  5. Also, there is probably water inside the chassis and you need to pop out the plastic plugs from underneath the car and let the water leak.
  6. Also, remove the plastic panels from the doors and take the plugs out. In order to leak all of the water out of them.
  7. Finally, check out the trunk area. Remove the moisture and everything inside. By doing this everything will be clean and ready to assemble.
  8. After everything dries it’s ready to be assembled, but first, check the electrical system.
  9. This system needs to be in check if you want your car to run properly. Water will probably mess up your electrical systems and you will need to get an electrician. They’ll check if everything is in proper working order. If something needs replacing and it probably will then you have to replace the faulty part.
  10. After everything is sorted, you can reassemble the car and give it a crank, the car should be ok and you will be able to drive it once again.

Prevention From Flooding

I personally believe in something that is called preventive maintenance. You need to think in advance before something happens. For example, if you live in a place where hail storms are happening very often it is a smart idea to make a garage for your car.

Don’t park your car under a tree or in front of your door. This will not cut it. A storm may appear all of a sudden and a tree can fall on your car and ruin it. Also, the hail can total your car. Especially if you live in Oklahoma where these occurrences are relatively often. Many cars get totaled over there by hail.

If you live in an area where there is a lot of flooding. Maybe the best solution is to take your car outside. Especially if you have a garage that is below ground level. If the drain gets clogged up with stuff your car will probably get flooded. So, the best thing to do is to find a safer place.

Some places have trouble with hurricanes like Florida or Louisiana. In these countries, the best thing is to leave town if there is a massive hurricane closing in. This will guarantee your safety and also the safety of your vehicle.

Many cars get flooded by hurricanes every year and most of them are brand new cars. If you want to keep your car safe then it’s the best idea to drive your car away from the storm and not let water damage your car become your nightmare.

Common Problems With Flooded Cars

We will also share some tips on how your car may get flooded. These types of floods are not caused by natural disasters but are mostly caused by human error. These situations may not total your car, but for sure they are going to make you pay a lot of money to mechanics in order to fix these issues.

We are also going to discuss some DIY tips on how you can fix these problems by yourself with common tools.

Water Damage Car, Prevention #1: Don’t Forget Your Windows Open

One of the most common ways people get their car flooded is by forgetting their windows open. As silly as it may sound, this is true. The easiest way to get water damaged car is by forgetting your windows are open.

Maybe you got home after a hard day at work, you left your windows open, you laid on the couch fell asleep and suddenly storms come in. It floods your car and ruins your electricals. Big headache for a small thing error. Remember this, never forget your windows are open, no matter if it’s sunny out there. The weather changes all the time.

Water Damage Car, Prevention #2: Clean Your Drains

The second most important thing is to clean up your drain system. Especially if you park under a tree. The leaves will fill up your drains and your car can be easily flooded. It happened to me once, and I personally regretted it.

How I solved this issue, was by removing the plugs under my car. There are big plastic plugs that will allow the water to leak from the rails.

The next thing I did was I removed the front driver’s wheel, where my flood came through. Removed the wheel liner, and guess what? A ton of dirt there. It cracked the factory seals and water started going inside the car.

I cleaned off the dirt and I reapplied the seal. I put everything back together, and knock-on-wood, everything is ok now, even two years after this incident.

So, remember, always clean your drains, because you never know what may happen, one day you may get a water damaged car.

Water Damage Car

Water Damage Car, Prevention #3: Fix Your Windshield And Sun Roof

If you have leakage on your windshield, it is a good time to reseal your windshield with proper sealing. After some years, windshield seals are known to crack and make some holes inside, they are very small but they are big enough to make your windshield leak and cause major flooding.

Water can go into your electrical system and cause some weird things to start appearing. You don’t want your wires to short out. This may also cause fires in the worst-case scenario.

If you have a leak on your sunroof or your windshield, always take care of it before issues occur that will cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Water Damage Car: In Conclusion…

A water-damaged car can be a real pain, especially if it’s a new vehicle that you recently purchased. But it is what it is, the most important thing is that you are ok. In this article, we discussed the problem of a water damage car and we learned more about what should you do if your car gets flooded, which are the steps that you need to take in order to make a claim from the insurance.

We also discussed the titles these cars get and tips on how you should avoid them. Then we discussed what you can do if your car gets flooded and it’s not insured, the problems you may come up and how to fix them.

And finally, we learned some tips on prevention when it comes to water and flooding. These are important bits that will make you realize they can easily be avoided in the first place.

FAQs On Water Damage Car

If you’re still curious to learn more about water damage car, our FAQs here might help…

Can You Jump A Car In The Rain

Electricity and water don’t go well together. With that being said, some wonder if it’s safe to jump-start a car when it’s raining outside. After all, some rainwater will contact the exposed jumper leads and battery terminals. So, is it safe to jump a car in the rain, or is there a real risk of electrocution or causing further damage to your car? Thankfully, experts noted that it’s perfectly safe to jump-start a car while it’s pouring outside. This is because the voltage level of your car’s battery isn’t high enough to cause issues with the rain. However, it’s still a good idea to provide some cover or shade over the battery and jumper leads. Moreover, ensure that there isn’t a lot of water dripping in excess onto the cables, exposed leads, or battery terminal.

Does CarMax Buy Salvage Cars

In short, yes! CarMax is a great place to sell your car, even if its condition isn’t all too good. For instance, CarMax would even buy cars with frame or flood damage, and would even take in cars with a check engine light turned on. It’s a part of their slogan to buy any car. However, CarMax may still refuse to buy salvaged or damaged cars if their condition is too bad or irreparable. On top of that, CarMax will carefully consider any damage done to the car in its appraisal process. As you can imagine, a car with frame or flood damage will severely impact its value. Thus, CarMax wouldn’t offer you too much for it. Once CarMax has fixed up a frame or flood-damaged car, they would later re-sell it at dealer auctions, while also disclosing any damage the car’s sustained.

How To Get Moisture Out Of A Car

One side effect of a water damage car is needing to get rid of excess moisture from the interior. The same applies not just to flooding but also to instances where you might have forgotten to roll up the windows during a rainstorm. If you need to remove all that moisture, the first step would be to take out the floor mats and dry them in the sun. If you’re particularly handy, you might even consider removing the seats from the car and letting it dry under the sun, too. Otherwise, placing some bath towels over the wet seats should be enough to gradually soak up any moisture. As for standing water in the footwell, you could use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the moisture, as well. If you have some standing or table fans, leave your car’s doors open, and leave it on full blast.

Does Gap Insurance Cover Engine Failure

Among the most damaging consequences of a flooded or water damage car is complete engine failure. Due to the nature of a hydro-locked engine, fixing it will require a lot of time and money to get it back in running condition. For that reason alone, most people might consider using insurance money to pay off all those workshop expenses. Alas, gap insurance doesn’t cover mechanical breakdowns such as engine failure or faulty transmission. gap insurance mainly only covers cars that have been totaled or stolen. A car with engine failure might, however, be covered by the factory extended warranty. In particular, a powertrain warranty. Elsewhere, specific mechanical breakdown insurance policies would also be able to help you in the event of total engine failure.

What Happens If Water Gets In Your Engine

When water gets inside your engine, it’ll cause something known as hydro-locking. As you know, an engine functions by combusting a mixture of fuel and air. To maximize this burn, an engine will use the movement of its pistons to further compress the air and fuel mixture. Seeing that air is gaseous and fuel is mostly sprayed in a vapor form, it can be compressed fairly easily. However, water can’t be easily compressed. Should water get into the combustion chamber, the engine might seize and stall, as your pistons are now facing a mostly incompressible liquid. Unfortunately, some engines might not be so lucky. The excess strain and force could easily bend connecting rods and puncture a hole in your engine block. Thus, causing complete engine failure.

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Tom Scattergood 12/28/2022 - 1:41 PM

I have water damage to electical system due o windshield leaking and water came in under dash. Do you know a electrical mechanic in South Jersey that can tell me how to repair system or if it a total loss?

Paul Hadley 07/25/2023 - 4:42 PM

I’m sorry to hear about the water damage to your car’s electrical system, Tom. Dealing with such issues can be frustrating and worrisome. While I don’t have specific recommendations for an electrical mechanic in South Jersey, I suggest reaching out to local car repair shops or conducting an online search for reputable mechanics in your area.

It’s essential to have a professional assess the extent of the damage and determine if it can be repaired or if the system needs replacement. They will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and advise you on the best course of action.

In terms of your insurance coverage, it’s important to review your policy or contact your insurance provider directly. They can inform you about the extent of coverage for water damage and guide you through the claims process if necessary. Remember to document and take photos of the damage for your records.

I hope you find a skilled mechanic who can assist you with the repairs or provide advice on the best way forward. Good luck with resolving the issue with your car!


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