What to do if your vehicle has been in deep water

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This year, flooding has returned to haunt motorists, especially those who live in low-lying areas of the country.

Many car owners are facing difficulties after floodwater has submerged their cars. Here is one example. Khun Annex writes:

I have a problem with my car, a 2005 Toyota Camry. Last month I had to travel overseas and left the car at home. When I came back, the garage was flooded and the water level almost covered the wheels.

My neighbour says that the water flowed in 20 days ago and the level started to rise gradually until it reached this level a week ago.

My question is whether there will by any damage to the car and how do I get it fixed? I asked a mechanic at a garage near my home and he said everything had to be dismantled, including the engine. The initial cost will be at least Bt15,000. Is this true?

First of all, Khun Annex, never go back to this garage again. They probably believe you have no knowledge of cars. They are like robbers.

The first thing you should do is check whether the water level has reached the starter and the alternator in the engine compartment.

If it hasn’t, then you can relax. Just start the engine and drive the car slowly up to a dry area. Avoid revving up the engine, or the cooling fan may start to work and throw water all around the engine compartment, bringing the chance of a short circuit.

If the water level has reached the starter and alternator, don’t try to start the engine. Have the car pushed or towed out of the flood. Then have it taken to an auto-electrical shop, and ask a mechanic to remove the starter and alternator and clean them. This will cost no more than Bt2,000.

But if either the starter or alternator is damaged, then you can ask for a used or “rebuilt” one as a replacement, instead of a totally new one. The cost is only about one-third, but the replacement is almost as good in terms of quality.

Also, have the mechanic remove the light bulbs from the headlights and rear lights and clean them, along with other electrical components that might be wet.

After that is done, drive the car to a petrol station or service centre and have the engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power-steering fluid changed, along with having the brake pads removed and cleaned. Also have the brake discs cleaned.

However, you should also be careful, when a car has been parked in a flood for a long time, about small animals like rodents, reptiles and insects that love to move into the engine compartment where it is dry and sheltered. Have the mechanic blow high air pressure into the engine compartment to drive away unwelcome guests. Also, remove the carpets and dry them, as well as wiping excess water off the floor to prevent rust.

E-mail your motoring questions to Pattanadesh@nationgroup.com.

By Pattanadesh Asasappakij

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