Is a flooded car totaled? This question is one that most car owners will hopefully never have to ask. Whether or not a car is flooded is not as easy as a simple yes or no. Every case will be different depending on several factors.
Is a Flooded Car Totaled?
Whether a flooded car is totaled or not ultimately depends on how much damage has occurred to the car as compared to its overall value. If the cost of repairs outweighs the value of a car, then your insurance company may consider the vehicle a total loss. If the cost of repairs doesn’t exceed the car’s value, then your vehicle may be repairable.
The type of water that the car has been submerged in will also influence the amount of damage that occurs to a vehicle. Water that contains chemicals or oil can complicate repairs and increase the costs needed to restore the vehicle to working condition.
Seawater is corrosive and extremely difficult to thoroughly remove from a vehicle. Damage from saltwater occurs over time and is not always immediately apparent. Even if a vehicle appears to be fine, the damage to the infrastructure of the vehicle can lead to mechanical, structural, and electrical issues down the line.
Freshwater flooding can reach as high as the dashboard before a vehicle becomes a total loss. As little as 12 – 16 inches of saltwater, on the other hand, can render a car a total loss.
The reason for this is that repairing a water-damaged vehicle requires more than simply drying it out. Electronics and water don’t mix, which means that essential components such as the onboard computer will require replacement. Repairs are further complicated when dirt, sediment, and corrosive salts are present in the water.
What to do if Your Car Becomes Flooded
If your car becomes flooded, practicing a ‘safety first’ approach will help you and your family avoid getting hurt. Here are our top tips on what to do if your car becomes flooded.
If you are in your car…
Leave your vehicle and move to higher ground. More than half of flood-related deaths occur in vehicles, according to the National Weather Service.
- Don’t try to rescue your car. 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. It only takes one foot of water to float and carry away a small vehicle.
- If your car becomes completely submerged and you are still inside, don’t panic. The doors will open once the cabin is completely full.
- If you see a flooded road or underpass, don’t drive into the water even if you think your car may clear it. Turn around and try a different route.
After the flood…
- Do not attempt to start your car before it has been inspected by a certified technician or mechanic.
- Identify how much water the car was submerged in, if possible. Most flood water will contain dirt and sediment that will leave a flood line on the inside of your car.
- Dry the interior of your car. Leave the doors and windows open and run a fan to prevent mold and mildew from developing.
- Check the oil reservoir. Remove the oil dipstick and see if there are any droplets of water on it. If you see water, then do not start the engine until repairs have been made.
- Check the air filter. If the filter is damp to the touch or water is visible, do not start the engine until repairs have been made.
Buying a Flood-Damaged Car
Sometimes, you can find great deals on flood-damaged cars from auto auctions or the classifieds. While you may save a lot of money at the time of purchase, hidden long-term damage can lead to costly repairs down the road.
Buying a flood-damaged car is a personal decision. We recommend that you have a certified mechanic like T3 Atlanta inspect any flood-damaged Toyota, Infiniti, Nissan, or Lexus vehicle you are considering before you buy. We’ll be able to identify any potential problems and help prevent costly headaches down the line.