Buyer Tips Used Cars

5 Things to do to Restore Your Flooded Vehicle

By Daisy Emah-Emah Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 07/27/2021

We’ve all had to drive through knee-deep water at some point often due to bad weather …. fearful of the car stalling. In some cases, the water got into the cabin and then we had to deal with the stubborn moldy damp smell for weeks and in some cases, costly repairs.


Floods and other natural disasters are common sights all over the world. If your vehicle is ever trapped in a flood, you will need a lot of effort and sometimes, money, to get it to its original state – or close to it at least.


Vehicles in the US are slammed with salvage flood titles or total loss if, at any point, they have been exposed to floods. In severe cases, they are deemed to have safety issues and not fit to run on roads. They require lots of repairs and need to go through a series of inspections before being proven roadworthy.


So what is the impact of the flood on any vehicle?



Problems With a Flooded Vehicle

Flooded vehicle have a lot of things that go wrong – soggy carpets and horrible smelly interiors begin the problems of flooded cars. Mechanically, the car is prone to electronic malfunctions. Engine damage, and wiring problems.


Another issue caused by flooding is rusting on the undercarriage or other metal parts of the car. Also, driving through a flooded route especially while it’s still pouring can result in a collision.


How can you salvage the situation?


Steps to Recovering a Flooded Vehicle

Two possibilities occur when a vehicle is flooded. It is either the car was flooded while driving in the rain or the car was parked in a flooded area.


An important thing to note is that you should not try to start your engine if your car has sat in or driven through a flooded area. If the car has been submerged in the water for a while, you will need to drain out transmission fluid, oil, and all fluids in the car before moving it.



Once this is done, move the car out of the water as soon as possible and begin the recovery and restoration process. The longer the car sits in water, especially salty water, the greater the damage to important components of the vehicle.


Step 1:

Never attempt to start the engine to avoid irreversible damage or in worst-case scenarios, electrocution. Water can damage all components of the car including expensive parts like the engine and transmission.


If you try to start a flooded car it can cause a hydro lock – when pistons don’t move as they should. Once your car is hydro locked the cost of repairs will be exuberantly high or the car can be non-repairable in worst cases.


Step 2:

Evaluate the damage and water level in the vehicle – inside and around the vehicle and take the car out of the water. Drain the water inside the car immediately because the longer it sits in the water the more damage it sustains. You can get the water out by opening the doors and windows and vacuuming the puddles to quickly remove the water.


If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum you can use heavy towels or mops to soak up the water. You can also take out the easts and sundry, which also allows the cabin to get more ventilation. To avoid foul smell and dampness you may need to replace floor carpets, upholstery, and door panels.

Flooded car interior details, total loss

Step 3:

After drying out the cabin of the car the next thing to do is to check the engine. Using a dipstick, check if there are water droplets in the oil tank. If you find water droplets, do not start the engine of the car to avoid breaking the cylinders in the engine. You will need to rain the oil and other fluids from the car. Recommended having a professional mechanic take a look at the vehicle.


Further Reading

  1. 5 Sites you Need to Check Before Buying a Used Car 
  2. What Should I Check For When Buying a Car
  3. Everything You Need to Know about Buying Used Cars
  4. How to Get the Best Vehicle History Report on Auction Cars for Sale 


Step 4:

Check other electrical components to know if they are working properly. You should test the headlights, taillights, power locks, lights, and all other electrical parts. Also, test the brakes, transmission, and power steering to make sure they are all moving or functioning properly. If any of the parts are not properly functioning, you should have a professional mechanic take a look at the car.


Step 5:

We recommend contacting your insurance company as soon as possible to evaluate if the car should be repaired or replaced. If the car can be repaired, have a professional mechanic fix the vehicle.


What Next?

Restoring a flooded vehicle can be a real pain both to your bank account and your mental health. We hope you do not have to deal with flooded vehicles, but these 5 steps would come in handy if you have to. If you opt for getting a new car that will not break your bank account you should consider used car auctions.



First, head to our website to make your choice of the type of vehicle you want. You can request a Vehicle History report to have information on the damage history, odometer reading, and repairs. The Vehicle History Report, has information on the type of damage that previously occurred, such as accident, fire, or flood.


You can also request a physical inspection which is having a professional mechanic physically inspect the vehicle for damages. This is more accurate than a Vehicle History Report but it cost more to have this done.


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