Don’t assume. Just because your car did not float six blocks away during Hurricane Sandy does not mean it escaped water damage. Before starting, give your vehicle a thorough examination. This is important. Otherwise, you may inadvertently damage it by introducing an electrical current into damp engine parts.
Fortunately, you do not need to possess a certified mechanic’s eye to gauge flood damage. You can do this on your own with absolute certainty by looking for the following telltale signs:
- Check the air filter for dampness.
- Check interior carpets and upholstery for moisture. If wet, seek professional assistance. Do not attempt to dry on your own. Leaving the windows open will not dry the interior properly, making the car susceptible to rust and mildew. And attempting to dry with a space heater leaves you at risk to fire.
- Check the engine oil disptick. If the oil appears diluted, or has an unusual color, water probably found way into the oil pan.
- Look for mud, grass, or branches on the bumpers or front grill.
- Check the headlights, taillights and directionals for standing water.
Instead, have it towed to a repair shop. Depending on your insurance coverage or automobile club, you may be compensated for the towing fee.
Even if you think the damage is minimal, it’s vital that you have a trained mechanic inspect the vehicle. Not all water damage is immediate. Moisture in the brake lines, for example, can cause your car’s brakes to fail several days or weeks after the storm. And without proper lubrication, rust can wreak havoc on the all-important suspension joints. Both can be avoided with preventive maintenance.