How to Repair Water Damage to a Vehicle

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Water damage to a car is not as unusual as it may at seem. It can come from a variety of causes, such as floods and rainwater or snow entering the engine compartment when the hood is left raised. Water damage can happen to the engine, fuel system, breaking system, car interior, or even the paint.

Some car parts can be repaired from water damage, while other parts need to be replaced. If your car has been damaged by water and you'd like to get it back to driving condition, you'll need to know which parts to repair, how to repair them, and which parts to replace. Refer to the tips below to get your car working again.

Engine and Transmission Fluids

Car fluids, such as engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluids, and the cooling system are all vulnerable to damage from water. Engines and transmission are the most critical. Any attempt to run a car or truck that has water in the crankcase could result in serious damage to the engine. The same is true of the transmission.

If there is a possibility that your engine or transmission has water in it, you should check for signs of water. Inspect the dip sticks of both the engine and the transmission. Fluids on these dip sticks that seem to be diluted, milky, or beige-colored are signs of water infiltration.

Do not start or drive your car. Have it towed to a place where you can drain the transmission and the oil pan. If necessary, take it to a garage where a professional can assess any damage, determine the seriousness of the damage, and estimate the cost to repair it.

Brake Systems

If your vehicle has been submerged in water, there is little chance that the brake system has survived without damage. If possible, elevate your car, remove the wheels, and allow the break components such as drums, shoes, and pads to dry. Then inspect them for damage. Drain the brake fluid and replace it.

Engine Coolant

The cooling system of a vehicle that has been submerged in water will most certainly be diluted. Although the cooling system will not likely be damaged directly, there is a danger that in colder months, the diluted coolant could freeze and crack the engine block. For this reason, if you plan to keep a car that is water damaged, drain the coolant and replace it with fresh coolant.

Vehicle Interior

Although the structure of fabric will not be damaged, mildew will grow and leave an unpleasant odor for as long as the car is operating. If you plan to keep the car, you should have the seats and fabric on the top and sides replaced.