Hurricane Florence has resulted in record flooding. According to the Weather Channel, rainfall has totaled more than 30 inches in some locations, and river flooding rivaled that caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999 in some locations. Last year, Hurricane Harvey dropped between 40 and 61 inches of rain in parts of Texas and Louisiana after it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
All this rain can do some serious damage. Even when people escape injury, their property, including their cars, often don’t fare as well. Fortune reports that around one million cars were damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
But it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause water damage to a car. More mundane storms can do it, as well. According to Consumer Reports, flooding damages or destroys thousands of cars every year.
Water damage is a serious problem. It in addition to the more superficial damage, like moldy upholstery and an odor of mildew, it can wreak havoc on the engine. Some cars that have been flooded are deemed a total loss. However, some can be salvaged with proper care.
If your car has been flooded, here’s how to go about restoring it:
- Assess the damage before you try to start the engine. Auto Zone warns that starting the car can cause water to enter the engine, causing serious damage. Instead, disconnect the battery and look for the high-water mark first. There’s usually a visible line of mud and debris showing how high the water went.
- Dry it out as soon as possible. Don’t leave your car sitting in water any longer than is absolutely necessary, as this will cause more damage. You may need to have your car towed.
- Remove interior pieces. Drying out your car requires more than towing it out of the water. You’ll need to remove wet interior pieces, including floor mats, seat padding and even body panels. Expect to have to replace any cloth parts that got wet.
- Get the fluids, engine and electrical systems checked. Even if your car seems to be running, you’ll want to have it looked at by a qualified mechanic.
Does Your Insurance Cover Flooded Cars?
Whether or not your insurance will cover your car depends on your policy. Liability insurance – the type that covers property damage and injuries resulting from an accident you cause – does not cover flood damage. For this, you need comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive car insurance covers your car against things like theft and damage from natural events, including floods. If you have comprehensive coverage when your car is flooded, talk to your insurer about making a claim. And if you don’t have comprehensive coverage, consider getting it now – before the next storm hits. Get an auto insurance quote.