How to Tell if Hurricane Sandy Totaled Your Car

By: Staff Writer November 19, 2012
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If you've ever dropped a cell phone in water you know it only takes seconds for it to destroy the circuitry and turn the phone into expensive junk. Flood water has the same effect on your car engine's electrical system. Even if your car was not swept away by Hurricane Sandy, or you were able to drive it through four feet of standing water, there's a strong chance it could still be totaled.

The effects of flood water are not always immediate. But once inside your car, it can:

  • Flood the engine's cylinders. When started the cylinders will hyrdo-lock, causing the pistons to bend and the engine to crack. And even if you were to remove the water, the cylinder's would still begin to rust. This in turn would then cause the engine to run unevenly and require constant oil refills.
  • Destroy the transmission.
  • Short-circuit the car's electronic components,  which include power windows, power locks, electric adjustable seats, stereo, GPS and DVD player.
  • Ruin the car's airbags, preventing them from deploying in the event of an accident.
  • Saturate the interior carpeting and upholstery. Even after drying out, you could still face the problem of mold, creating a health hazard for you and your passengers. And once mold starts, it's difficult to remove.

In sum, if the water reached higher than the floor, your vehicle, in most instances, is considered totaled.

For peace of mind, seek a second opinion from either a trained mechanic, or, if you're covered with comprehensive insurance (liability insurance does not cover flood damage), from a claims adjustor.



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