Houston flooding: Take these steps to minimize damage of a flooded car

Floods like we've experienced recently can mean big damage to cars.  Your car may look fine, but it can have serious, hidden damage to the engine and electronic components.  

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Maybe you drove through high water, or your car was parked where floodwaters rose, but you're not sure how high they reached.  We asked Frank Vasquez, an instructor with Universal Technical Institute, what steps to take to deal with a flooded car.  

If your vehicle has been flooded at all, he says do not start the engine.

"If water has reached the internal components, and you start it, you could do what is called hydro-lock the engine and cause more damage to it," explained Vasquez.

If you have a wrench, you can disconnect the battery.

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"You take off the negative cable. It usually has a symbol, the minus sign," Vasquez pointed out on a battery.

He explains, "You have a lot of computers that are doing constant monitoring. I don’ t know how far the damage has already occurred, so I’m trying to minimize it as much as I can."

"If you have a car that still has a transmission fluid dip stick, you remove it, water will form little droplets.  The oil should be smooth, silk.  If there are little droplets of water, do not start the vehicle.  Do not attempt it.  Check the oil as well.  If you see the same results, that’s going to be an indication it needs to be taken to a shop immediately," said Vasquez.

Not sure how high the water reached?  You can also check the brake reservoir.

"If you open it up, and you see water, do not drive it, that is extremely dangerous," he said.

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Remember that modern cars are filled with electronics.

"If I touch the padding and feel that it’s wet, you can easily lift some of its trim panels," Vasquez said, touching the carpet lining the car floor.


"There are too many electrical components under the vehicle that will cause the vehicle to have issues if it's not handled correctly or right away," he said.

He also suggests taking video of the damage that you spot and calling a tow truck to take it a mechanic.

"Make sure you're videotaping how the car was handled, how it was towed, and contact your insurance right away," he said.

Flood damage is usually included in the comprehensive coverage of an insurance policy.  If you don't have comprehensive coverage, you can have it added to your policy.