19 Aug Car Damaged Due to Water/Flooding – What To Do?
What to do if your car is Submerged?
Imagine driving into the basement parking in one of the buildings in Nairobi, Kenya on a wet day. You then proceed to a marathon meeting or conference that takes the better part of the day.
At the end of the day, you take the elevator to the basement parking but you are told you cant access the basement using the elevator. You take the short flight of stairs to the basement parking but halfway down there, you meet a crown of smartly dressed ladies and gentlemen looking dazed and confused, all of them seemingly in deep thought.
As you lift your gaze to find your car beyond the buildings pillars, all you can see is the glimmer of flood water. Your car is damaged/submerged in water , all the way up to the window level. Everything under there is full of water. What should you do?
Luckily, this situation is indeed rare anywhere in the world, but just like all car insurance risks, it still happens.
Some motorists end up in floods either because the streets that they had parked in end up engulfed in a flood, or the basement parking suffers flooding from storm water draining there, or as a result of broken water pipes.
Some motorists, out of hard luck, drive right into a flooded pool.
If your car ends up in a situation where the engine is underwater, chances are you will need to replace the car. If this flooding water happens to be salt water, then it is twice as important to write off the car.
Newer cars come with all manner of sensitive sensors that cannot function normally if exposed to water. In addition, corrosion resulting from water damage will also compound the problems.
You could spend a lot of time and money replacing sensor after sensor for years. It is just more efficient for you to get another car.
It is possible to reclaim your car from the flood. First and foremost, do not try to start the car at all costs as long as it has been standing in water for a bit. The will assure you of complete damage to the car. In fact, you should not even tow the car.
The best way to move the car is by carrying it to a garage using a flatbed truck (Get your AA membership now!).
Once your car is in a safe place, do everything you can to get rid of as much water as possible. Dry the interiors to your best ability if to retain any hope of giving it a second life.
Surprisingly, it is easier to reclaim an engine from a submerged car but it also depends on the water quality. Muddy water inside the engine would be bad for seals. Salty water will assure the corrosion of engine parts. You will need to replace all filters (air filter, oil filter and fuel filter).
You will also need to replace the oil and if the water was muddy remove the whole sump for cleaning. It may be necessary to remove the fuel tank. Replace the coolant too.
These steps may improve the chances of getting a second shot at driving your car.
How to ensure Your car Survives a flashflood?
What is a flashflood
Flashfloods are pretty dramatic. In one moment, all is calm. It is probably shining very hard that there is no way you could be imagining that a whole river of water is about to come your way.
Flash floods refer to this phenomenon where torrential rain in a high altitude area forms a stream that flows with fury downhill, and depending on the volume of water, causes floods downstream.
Flashfloods are particularly dangerous because they arrive with little or no warning. You could be collection pebbles on a dried out riverbed one minute and the next one you could be fighting for your life in a huge and fast flowing river in the same spot.
The power of a flashflood
The destructive power of a flashflood comes from three key elements.
First, the volume of water in question can mean the difference between a powerful torrent of water and a playful stream that appears round the bend and vanishes just as fast. Heavy downpour in the upstream areas will lead to the accumulation of large quantities of water.
The greater the volume of water in a flash flood, the higher the destructive power of the streams. Large volumes of water can lift up your car, seeing that only one foot of water is enough to lift a car, and that includes SUVs. This can lead to temporary loss of control as your car loses traction, all the way to being washed downstream.
It is highly advisable to keep off all manner of surface runoff unless your car doubles up as a boat.
The second element is the slope. A flashflood coming from a very steep area is likely to be faster and more destructive than one which flows on a lower gradient.
The first one will arrive at a much higher speed and can cause immediate damage, while the second one will mainly cause damage as a result of rising water. Sloppy areas give water much less time to seep into the ground, hence most of the water ends up downhill.
The speed of the water comes from gravity, a situation that makes such flashfloods dangerous. Fast flowing water can topple your car as the energy in the water is transferred to your car.
The third element is the debris it is carrying. A flood may pick-up large trees and literally anything that floats on its path, and will then ram these floating objects on anything it finds on its path, such as your car.
This may result in broken windows, and dented body parts. If there is anyone in your car, then you may suffer injuries as a result of the debris.
If the debris is large, your car may be rammed to its side, and if the water volume is high enough, the car could be washed downstream.
Damage your Car can sustain from a flashflood
When you are engulfed in a flashflood, your car may suffer various forms of damage. First, the car may experience damage to its exteriors. This includes damage to body panels, broken windows and mirrors, and broken lights. You may also experience damage to your electrical if the water level rises high enough or if your car takes in water.
This kind of damage is hard to deal with. You may also deal with mechanical damage if your engine is flooded or if the rubber boots meant to keep water out of moving parts allow the flood water in.
We are talking about damage to your CV joints, power steering rod, and transmission. The third type of damage you may experience as a result of being engulfed by a flashflood is damage to the car’s interior as a result of exposure to water.
Leather seats will absorb the water and it if gets into the sponge within the seats, removing it will be a real pain. In the same way, any water that gets lodged in the carpet can lead to body damage as a result of corrosion.
If the flood waters are muddy, then you may have no option but to replace some elements of your car’s interior.
How to stay safe from flash floods
The best policy when it comes to flash floods is to stay out of their path. In Kenya, flash floods are most frequent in the arid and semi-arid areas in the Northern frontier, but are also regularly reported in the lower Eastern areas and in the National parks located there.
The locals will be your best guides on when and where to expect flash floods, so it is in your interest to have a local with you as you tour these areas. Avoid any inviting dry riverbeds and keep off valley troughs, especially where there are no clear routes out of the valley
Secondly, monitor the weather carefully whenever you are touring areas where you are unfamiliar. Floods in cities tend to be unimpressive and usually result in little or no damage, save for massive traffic jams. This is because cities are designed with storm drains and have the infrastructure to direct flood waters effectively.
This may make you underestimate the power of flash floods in rural areas, where nature still rules. Monitor the weather especially in surrounding highland areas, and if you see or hear about rain or thunderstorms in upstream areas, then be on the lookout for flash floods
Finally, ensure your car insurance cover is up to date, and discuss with your agent on the scope of water damage covered by your policy.
If you are not confident of your cover, then use an alternative to your car, just to keep the risks off your books. In any case, it is always better to stay out of trouble than to get into it with the hope that you will be bailed out.