Don’t start that car if it’s been in the flood

ABOVE: Cars merge from the floodwaters. Photo: Mark Kriedemann

Michael Burlace

If your car or truck was in floodwater that came up higher than the lowest part of the door, do not start it until you have taken some steps.

In fact, the best thing to do is to phone your insurer (if the car is insured) before the floodwaters recede and before you go to the car in case they want to take it away for assessment.

And, of course, don’t try to drive it, no matter how tempting the journey – unless you want to potentially write your car off.

Before getting into the muddy interior to check it out, be aware that snakes and spiders may have found a home there during the flooding.

Try to assess how far the water made it – this will be needed when discussing options with your mechanic and your insurer.

Then, phone your insurance company again with your new info.

Next thing may be to assess the damage and preferably have a mechanic or mechanically minded person assess it.

Even water that rose only slightly above the bottom of the doors may have disabled your car forever. Airbag controllers are often low in the car – under the front seats in many vehicles. Various vulnerable components are lower than the engine air intake and may be compromised already.

If the water was over the engine air intake, even a quarter turn of the engine could do so much damage that it will be an instant write-off. Diesels are at greater risk from water in the engine.

If your insurer is happy for you to attempt to get the car revived, it will need a service before it can be used.

And, if the water was salty, the damage could be greater.

If your insurer considers your car a ‘borderline case’, it may be better to get them to write it off.

Be aware that cars are in short supply generally and the floods will have made that worse.

Buying a flood-damaged car is a risk and there will be plenty out there that are not flagged as damaged.

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