Semi Submerged car

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Middle Miss F went on holiday and whilst away, her car was subjected to some flooding at the airport car park.

We are not sure exactly how deep the water was, but the exhaust is definitely full.

The engine has started but she didn't drive it home as initial advice was don't risk it.

However insurance have now written it off, apparently without even looking at it, but she's due to make the last payment on it next month and had just spent £500 on various repairs, so is not keen on writing off her investment as does not think she'll get offered much for it. (Also a job restructuring means she's losing hours so less money)

Obviously I am not expecting any sage advice as I can't give any more details that the car was semi submerged. The good side was it was wet on a Monday and left till a the Sunday before being started so some natural drying has occurred.

I have offered to drive her to pick it up and shadow her home.

What are likely problems? And what should we watch out for?
 
Make sure the insurance is still valid to drive it and that the company's act of writing it off doesn't invalidate the policy.
 

Awol

LE
Middle Miss F went on holiday and whilst away, her car was subjected to some flooding at the airport car park.

We are not sure exactly how deep the water was, but the exhaust is definitely full.

The engine has started but she didn't drive it home as initial advice was don't risk it.

However insurance have now written it off, apparently without even looking at it, but she's due to make the last payment on it next month and had just spent £500 on various repairs, so is not keen on writing off her investment as does not think she'll get offered much for it. (Also a job restructuring means she's losing hours so less money)

Obviously I am not expecting any sage advice as I can't give any more details that the car was semi submerged. The good side was it was wet on a Monday and left till a the Sunday before being started so some natural drying has occurred.

I have offered to drive her to pick it up and shadow her home.

What are likely problems? And what should we watch out for?
At the very least it will need an oil change before using it.
 

ches

LE
Never start a car with the exhaust full of water you might end up with hydrolock......water sucked into the cylinders. Not good. Ideally the head should be removed & cylinders checked.....you'd see white deposits if water has mixed with the oil. You may be lucky & it be ok if she started it just with some residue in the exhaust system.
 

anglo

LE
If the water has got into the cab area scrap it, if not get it serviced, wheels off job and inspected
underneath.
 
Its fooked. Leave it to the insurance company

Don't kid yourself just because its started, it is knackered and the insurance company knows it too
Every mechanical component that has been underwater is knackered. There will be water in the gearbox, the engine, the wiring harness, everything.

What doesn't break in the short term will suffer corrosion issues internally in the medium to long term.

It will never be the same car again. Let the insurance company have it and concentrate your efforts on getting a good price out of them
 
Did the water level go higher than the exhaust manifold, airbox/carbs/injector manifold or dipstick?

What am I missing? If the exhaust is drained and the engine hasn't been completely submerged and runs then, assuming insurance isn't invalidated what's the problem?
 
Did the water level go higher than the exhaust manifold, airbox/carbs/injector manifold or dipstick?

What am I missing? If the exhaust is drained and the engine hasn't been completely submerged and runs then, assuming insurance isn't invalidated what's the problem?

He doesn't know how deep the water got or for how long. Therefor we don't know what component have spent time under water.
Assuming its a relatively modern car much of the electrical system, transmission components, braking system, suspension etc may well have water ingress.
Many of the possibly submerged systems may well work now but will suffer corrosion issues over coming weeks/months.

That's why the insurance company want to write it off, there isn't really any way of knowing what has suffered damage without an awful lot of work.

Many years ago I drowned a Series II Land Rover, a very mechanically and electrically simple vehicle
It had to have engine, gearbox, transfer box and axle oils changed several times, the electrics needed remedial work to put right. Thats in a vehicle designed to be abused.
 

Slime

LE
Have a look at the tide mark in or on the car.
If its not too bad let the insurers write it off, but buy the car back from them, that way you will have the cash and the car.

What category of write off is it?

If its something like a beemer where stupidly the ECU is at floor level then that will affect things, and you would need to check everything.
 
I gotta agree with both @paddyplanty & @jagman2 , not helpful I know but they are both right given certain criteria. If the water level was above the sump and gearbox it’s knackered, if the exhaust is below both those items, and it can be established that no water has entered the gearbox, engine (diff(s) if it’s rear wheel or four wheel drive) then get it inspected by a mechanic and take it from there. If any of those components have water ingress then forget it, also if water entered the body of the car you will need to consider wiring looms and renewing carpets.
BA999EDF-D20E-45E1-8195-759590CFD485.jpeg
2196E024-3236-4CA2-A682-D8D163AA530C.jpeg
 
Middle Miss F went on holiday and whilst away, her car was subjected to some flooding at the airport car park.

We are not sure exactly how deep the water was, but the exhaust is definitely full.

The engine has started but she didn't drive it home as initial advice was don't risk it.

However insurance have now written it off, apparently without even looking at it, but she's due to make the last payment on it next month and had just spent £500 on various repairs, so is not keen on writing off her investment as does not think she'll get offered much for it. (Also a job restructuring means she's losing hours so less money)

Obviously I am not expecting any sage advice as I can't give any more details that the car was semi submerged. The good side was it was wet on a Monday and left till a the Sunday before being started so some natural drying has occurred.

I have offered to drive her to pick it up and shadow her home.

What are likely problems? And what should we watch out for?
More information would help, such as make/model and diesel/petrol.
The reason insurers write off cars that have been partially flooded and don't even bother to inspect them is twofold +plus one, ok so threefold unless this ends up as War & Peace. .
1. Scares about sewage backwash in the floodwater and discussions as to whether this leaves a potential bio-hazard.
2. Electronics - whereby the car may appear to be unaffected initially, but then throws up random and potentially very expensive faults, some time after it has been put back into service. (Reasonable concerns
with brake systems etc. implicated)
3. The insurance industry has become highly risk averse - ironic I know - and real technical expertise within insurer's is now very limited. Very few 'Insurance Engineers' are actually engineers, mostly panel beaters.
So it is a commercial decision based on taking the easiest path.

I'm not going to quarrel with the advice to remove the cylinder head, but first steps - check the oil for contamination - if the oil appears clean prior to starting, worth remembering that oil floats on water, so pay attention to the full mark on the dipstick. If over full, water is probably in there. I see it has been started, so you are looking foe emulsified oil. (white milky appearance)

More tips follow once the model/fuel is known.

But a good tip now it has had a chance to dry out is check the carpets in the front foot-well for a tide mark
and a hand under the dashboard to feel for any moisture if wiring is accessible.

(SME - out of date now but with good access to more current expertise)
 
I've some experience in dealing with plant machinery that has been submerged, if it's being in salt water get rid of, the corrosion and damage to the electrical systems alone is unbelievable,
If it's been water contaminated with sewage get rid of it, it'll stink and the health risks aren't worth it,
If the interior has got wet there will like be problems with mildew and rot in the cloth,
With fresh water change all the oils, fluids and filters, remove the spark plugs/diesel injectors and crank the engine to expel the water from the cylinders, once you've got that done get the car running and use all the controls to prevent them seizing up,
But the quicker the water ingress is delt with the better,
With regards the insurance company they might be prepared to sell the car back after writing it off,

But my advice would be to get a local mechanic to have a look at it, without knowing how deep the car was submerged and how clean the water was all I can offer is an opinion on possible ways forward
 

Awol

LE
Outside of the cabin, everything else is pretty much designed to get wet anyway. If it's already been started, hydraulic lock obviously isn't an issue, and like I said previously, a precautionary oil change could be all that's needed.
 
Hard to tell without knowing how deep the water got to. If it is still insured, starts and runs great keep it. If the inside got soaked or water got in the engine dump it. You might lose the cost of a tow truck though if it doesn't make it home. In other words you are on your own :)
 

WALT

War Hero
All depends on what it is and how deep it was. Like Jagman, I've sunk a Land Rover. Got it towed out by a tractor, turned over and drove off (after all the water poured out). Drove like crap for half an hour, did a big belch, and then was fine. Sadly my drive home was four hours. In wet clothes and on a wet seat. All I had to replace was the speedo, temp and fuel gauge (the sum total of electrics).
Like Ches says, check the oil. If the water was high enough to enter the engine, you'll see it.
Also, bear in mind, it's been written off. You've nothing to lose. If it dies, inshallah.
 

Slime

LE
Was it a car like this:

38FCCF08-581C-40D8-A2E9-F7016B1229FC.jpeg


If so, then there may be no hope.
 
If you (OP's daughter) has paid to park then the car being safe may be part and parcel of that - particularly at an airport compound - type car park where your car may be moved by the car park operator. There may be a liability issue for the car park operator - it won't have flooded just the once, so why can you park in that particular bay/area? It could be worth asking them.
 
Moral of the story is take the train to prestwick or get FF to cosplay as Parker in FFab1
On a serious note lots of photos plus cctv of the submergence should cover any wranglings
 

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