What happens if water gets inside your car?

What this post contain?

  • Highlights
  • Introduction
  • How much quantity of water entered in the car?
  • Where in the engine the water went?
  • If your car is flooded with water then what to do?


In many cases the recovery of a flood damaged car is less possible as by the salt water many issue arises:

  • Engine damage will happen
  • Contamination of oil and contamination of the transmission fluid will happen
  • Internal electrical fuses might break or misfire can also happen
  • Rusting of car the ultimate end can happen

Whenever monsoon season arises or sometimes also with heavy rainfall there is so high chance that the cites with the clogged drains will have stalled water for hours on roads, in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and also in many other places this problem is very common and this causes so much damage to the motor vehicles. In cars, many parts are open portions where water can very easily get in contact with the internal parts and this will create so many problems for instance there could be sparkling of the wires, contamination of transmission fluids and in worst cases the stalling of engine can also happen etc.

How much quantity of water entered in the car?

The first and foremost important question before everything else is how much water quantity entered into the car and after that the second question that is of major consideration is that where the water went into the car. Let’s first learn about the first question first, if the water quantity that entered is only a small amount, then there is nothing much to worry about the water will be turned into steam and be ejected out of the machine during the next exhaust cycle, earlier mechanics used to actually add water gradually, which is also called as the water injection into the carburetor on the running engine which will remove carbon deposits from the engine thus it clarifies that small amount of water cannot upset cars. And now the answer to the second question, if too much of water gets into the engine then a condition which is known as “hydrostatic lock” happen and this is seizing of engine. Hydrostatic locking arises when an incompressible fluid enters the combustion chamber and in this condition the piston will not be able to compress the incompressible fluid thus halting the process, resulting in the seizing of engine. The symptoms of a hydro locked engine is sudden stalling of engine or if your engine is not starting and making thump kind of noise when you are trying to start the car. Water when enters into the engine and will be long enough in the contact of engine then there are so many chances that the water will contaminate the oil, petrol, or transmission fluids, and can lead to electrical faults, and the ultimate result that can happen with excessive water cause to your engine is rusting.

Also read : Why car doesn’t start after it rains?

Also read : Can you charge your electric vehicle in rainy weather ?

Where in the engine the water went?

A small amount of water that enter in the cylinders will not devastate anything as it will be ejected from the cylinders in the next combustion cycle but if the amount of water is high that entered into the car then it won’t take much time to stagnate the piston which is more commonly known as hydro locking of Engine. The water takes more space if it fills the combustion chamber, then the rotation of the crankshaft will force the pistons upwards to try and compress the fluid but because of incompressible nature of water the piston cannot be compress water and this will halt the completion of cycle by the piston. So, the result will be hydrolocking, physical damage and also it can bent the conroads in worst case scenario( physical damage), and misfire can also happen. During off road travels the cars are expected to cross significant depths of water sometimes and for wading through deep water one can get so called “snorkels” and can get them placed high up on the vehicle, usually are implanted on the front portion of the cars and running up the A pillar, it is not suggested to go with the snorkels on your cars as they causes serious disadvantages to your car when it get implanted on your vehicle and can change the look of the your car. Water in oil won’t cause immediate breaking of parts as hydro locking one will but a lot of water cause the oil to become brownish and whitish sludge that is not good at lubricating your engine. The sludge will not allow to car work efficiently and malfunctioning of various system of the car can be observed thereafter and you are doing significant damage. It’s best to not run one as soon as you realize the oil is contaminated and drain the oil and water out and refill. The water will not go in one go you have to repeat the process many times again and again if you want your oil to be free from water contamination.

Car runs on roads by a process in which machinery of the cars turns the chemical energy of fuel into the heat energy and pressure energy because of which the piston work and this process repeats itself several times which finally changes into the mechanical energy and our car will begin to move and this process can be hindered by the slightest change which will break the cycle and then the mechanical energy will not be produced that will damage the whole system.

If your car is flooded with water then what to do?

  • If the water is up to very low level then much damage doesn’t happen to the car but if the car is submerged up to the dashboard and that too for period of long hours ( 5 to 9 hours and in between ) then there is very high chances that water has reached to inner parts of car. The first thing you have to do is try to take your car out of that flooded area to a dry place but one should remember that you should not turn your car or rather hire a towing machine to carry your car to some dry place.
  • It’s a big “NO” to start your car after it get caught in the flood or when water enter your engine. In this situation if one will try to turn on their car then they must bear a big loss as with this act one will invite the total devastation of the engine or seizing of engine.
  • After reaching a dry place open all the doors and now dry the upholstery, seats and mats by some clear towel or by taking them out to the dry place outside and by this they will dry quickly. Try drying everything with help of natural sunlight or either by turning heater inside the car.
  • Drying things outside the cabin will be much more helpful as with this the ventilation to the inner portion of the car will be increased that will help drying the cabin effectively.
  • In many cases the recovery of a flood damaged car is less possible as by the salt water many issue arises:
  1. Engine damage will happen
  2. Contamination of oil and contamination of the transmission fluid will happen
  3. Internal electrical fuses might break or misfire can also happen
  4. Rusting of car the ultimate end can happen
  • Check fuel of the car if it contains even a small amount of water empty the whole tank and if their is traces of water after emptying the fuel completely then repeat the process two to three times as even the small amount of water traces can cause you a big loss as through the fuel it can reach to the inner parts of the combustion chamber, there it will interfere in the process and can cause significant damage to the car.
  • Now it is the turn to look into the matter of engine but one important thing that one should keep in mind that if water is everywhere around the car then don’t try turning on your car and now with the help of the dipstick check if the oil is up to the top of the dipstick then there must be water settled down the tube because of which the is floating above the water as water is heavier than the oil that is why it is settled down, so after checking this call your mechanic and let him do the remaining work now because the situation is out of your hand now as so much water has reached to the innermost portion of the car now. And if the mechanic suggests to call your insurer then believe him that your engine is bewildered completely and engine is beyond reparable condition or if you want to restore your same engine then it is going to cost you huge sum of money and with this you have to make the decision if you want to call the insurer or want to repair your engine with huge amount .
  • When engine gets totally devastated by the water then only one thing that can be done is calling your insurer for your insurance claim and if you have had flood damage coverage in your policy then you can take advantage of the insurance but if you have not taken the flood damage coverage then they cannot help you. So, at the time of going for insurance then get flood damage coverage added in your insurance if you are living in place which is more prone for flooding, there are many places also in India where after little pouring the water will remain stagnant on the road because of the clogged drains, then the flood damage coverage will be a plus thing for you if your engine will get stalled because of the water.

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