Knowing what to do and what not to do with your car after a flood can help save a lot of money and can even help prevent further damage.

A collage of cars submerged in the Hyderabad rainsScreenshot from video
news Rains Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 19:39

Many people save up for years to buy a car, or even take loans. So, to witness one’s car submerged in water is sure to be a painful sight, but this is what happened for many people during the recent downpour in Hyderabad that saw waterlogging and inundation in several areas of the city. In many areas, cars were seen being swept away by the heavy flow of water, and in other areas, the rising water levels filled basements and drowned vehicles.  

Quite often, water levels rise abruptly without giving owners the time to drive away to safety. In case your area was one of those that was inundated and your car was submerged, then here is what you need to know. There are three main things to keep in mind.

Don’t try to start the car

This is one of the most common mistakes made by people. People often are under the misconception that starting the engine will drain all the water from within and heating up the engine will solve the issue.

Water can damage the engine and its internal parts thereby affecting transmission. When water damages the engine and the pistons don’t compress or move like they normally should, the condition is called a hydro-lock. This is very common in flooded cars and is the worst-case scenario for your vehicle. If your car is hydro-locked, repairing it can be an expensive affair.

Get rid of the water as soon as possible

If you are under the impression that you can tend to your car when the entire water dries up, you are mistaken. The longer you let the water remain in the car, the more damage is likely to happen. If the water is not cleared, the wiring and the mechanical components can end up being damaged.

Drain the water from the interiors of the car and get rid of the slush accumulated within. Try using a towel to soak the water and drain it out from the cabin. A wet/dry vacuum cleaner can be used too. Ensure that you check whether your vacuum cleaner can perform this function before using it.

We have all learnt about how water and metal aren’t the best of friends. As a car is predominantly made up of metal, it is likely to get rusted if it remains in water for too long. Drying the parts completely is crucial and repainting is a great option to prevent rusting.

A car affected by the floods is likely to have electrical issues. The dashboard, radio, infotainment system, windows, doors, seats, lights, and even the side-view mirrors all use wires for their functionality, and so, should be tested once the car is dry, and before use.

Let the interiors breathe- ventilate your car

Once you’ve managed to drain all the water and clean the interiors of the car, the next goal is to fully dry it. If the seats and interiors of the car are wet and damp, it can cause damage and foul smell. Push the car to a place where there is enough sunlight, roll down the windows, leave the doors wide open and let the interiors breathe. If you have a table fan or a portable fan, it can help hasten the process.

Speaking about taking extra care of flooded cars, Shaik Salauddin, the State President of the Telangana Four-wheeler Drivers Association said it is crucial to take professional help if your car is flooded. He said, “The brake, clutch, and accelerator are important parts of any car and they are often also the first to get damaged in a flood. Because these parts are moving components, water can find its way into them easily and damage them quickly. Other moving parts like the starter, pistons, and cylinders are also prone to severe damage in a flooded car. For repairs, it is always best to reach out to a professional to ensure that nothing is damaged further.”

In case your car wasn’t completely flooded but the interiors ended up getting wet, then you can use heaters in the car to dry them. But do this only if the engine was not submerged in water. The next time you hear about heavy rains are likely, ensure you park your car at a safe place away from trees and in a place that is less likely to get inundated.

Insurance and how it plays an important role

If your car has a third party insurance, it won't cover the damage caused to your vehicle by floods. However, if you have a comprehensive car insurance, it covers losses or damages caused by natural calamities such as floods, cyclones and hailstorms. 

If your car has been affected by the floods, broadly there are two kinds of damages that your car can suffer - damage to its engine and damage to its accessories. If the engine of your car is completely damaged then, it can cost you around 1.5 lakh to repair it. Depending on the accessories that have been fitted on your car, the costs can vary and this can also be high. If you have car insurance, then it should pay for repairs for engine as well as upholstery. Insurance companies place natural disasters like floods and earthquakes under the 'Acts of God' clause.

An important point to be noted is that while the insurance company covers unforeseen events, it doesn’t cover damages caused to the engine if you attempt starting a car that has been submerged. Further damage that occurs by starting the car after it has been submerged will not be considered a damage caused due to the flooding and hence it will not be covered by insurance. That said, every insurance provider has its own rules and guidelines. Some insurance providers will have an option of an add on; and in such a case, the comprehensive insurance will not cover the engine damage unless you have the add on. In most cases, add-ons opted for cab vary, especially if the people live in places that are less likely to be flooded.

If your car has been impacted by the recent floods, reach out to your insurer and follow the steps laid down to get your car repaired. Before you attempt to get the car repaired, it is advised to read the guidelines, terms and conditions laid down by the insurer.

READ: Union Min Kishan Reddy pulls up Hyd officials for neglecting flood relief work

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