If Irene Gets Your Car

Irene is over.
You survived.
Everything survived. You were one of the lucky ones.
Only…you forgot to close your windows and the inside of your car got soaked.

Or you thought you were fine until you saw the parking garage was flooded.

Or you parked at the foot of a hill, and, oops, the storm drain was clogged with debris, and your car ended up up to its hood in water.

What do you do?

The National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) recommends:

  • Do not start a flooded vehicle until a thorough inspection and cleaning is performed.
  • Take immediate steps to dry the vehicle as much as possible so as to reduce the length of time vehicle components are exposed to water.
  • Contact your insurance company or agent and promptly report the exposure of your vehicle to water or flood.
  • Record the highest level of water exposure on a flooded vehicle. This will aid qualified technicians in evaluating and taking the necessary steps to correct any damage.
  • Contact a certified technician to arrange for an inspection and evaluation of all mechanical components, including the engine, transmission, axles, brake and fuel system for water contamination.
  • Flush and replace all fluids, oils and lubricants, and replace all filters and gaskets for components exposed to water. While a vehicle may drive with fluids that have experienced water intrusion, extended internal exposure to water will increase the level of damage to the engine and other vehicle components.
  • Many repair facilities recommend a thorough cleaning of brake parts and repacking of bearings, particularly for rear-drive vehicles. In front-wheel-drive vehicles, bearings are sealed.
  • Some of today’s vehicles have padding and insulation that do not easily release moisture. In this situation, it is most effective to replace the materials to prevent the forming of mold or mildew that may contaminate the entire vehicle. With mildew, a repair that may have cost only $100 can easily escalate.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect all wiring and electrical components exposed to water. While many components are protected from casual water exposure, extended flood exposure may have lingering effects. In some instances, difficulty due to water exposure will not surface earlier than 90 days, when computer and other electrical components begin to corrode.

And they also have ten inspection tips on how to recognize a flooded vehicle so you don’t get stuck with one:

  • Check the vehicle’s title history by VIN through commercially available vehicle history reports like Carfax or Experian Auto Check. The report may state whether a vehicle has sustained flood damage.
  • Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
  • Check for recently shampooed carpet.
  • Look under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
  • Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading;
  • Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
  • Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where the water would normally not reach unless submerged.
  • Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
  • Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
  • Inspect the undercarriage of other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.
  • CRAIG BROUGH/AFP/Getty Images


    Check out more tips from NADA. Read about legislation

    If you’re in California, you might want to give us a call and see about getting an assessment from Byebyemold.

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