Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: restoring a drowned car ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: restoring a drowned car
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bigalofechopark-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 10 Sep 2005 20:08 PDT
Expires: 10 Oct 2005 20:08 PDT
Question ID: 566637
Any vehicle can be restored, but is it worth it?  Specifically, is it
practical to restore a car that's been under water for two months
(think New Orleans)?  How much could it cost?  Briefly, what are the
most difficult problems to deal with?
Subject: Re: restoring a drowned car
Answered By: nenna-ga on 11 Sep 2005 09:46 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Good morning bigalofechopark and thank you for your question.  If you
decide to take on the project of restoring a flooded car, you have a
lot of work on your hands!

As you already know, a car that has been completely submerged can be
fixed.  However, most insurance companies will consider it "totaled",
which might be beneficial given the amount of money you will have to
pour into fixing the flooded automobile.

"Flooded cars can usually be restored to working order, but they often
have mechanical problems for years afterward. Many insurance adjusters
simply total a car if it has been flooded above its dashboard, where
many of the vehicle's most sensitive electronic components are

Source:  Kings County Journal

Keep in mind that floodwaters are a mixture of water and dirt that
forces its way into every seam and crevice of an automobile and can be
very corrosive and abrasive.   If the car has been submerged, it may
be necessary to disassemble all mechanical parts for thorough cleaning
and lubrication.

A car damaged by floodwater should not be started until a thorough
inspection and cleaning is performed. A qualified technician should:

1.  Inspect all mechanical components, including the engine,
transmission, axles, brake system and fuel system for water

2.  Drain floodwater from contaminated mechanical systems and flush
with clean water or a solvent, as appropriate.

3.  Drain and replace all contaminated fluids, such as oil,
transmission fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid and anti-freeze.

4.  The car's electrical system also is vulnerable to the damaging
effects of flood water and water-sensitive components may need to be
replaced.  Engine computers and other electronic devices can sometimes
be salvaged, but corrosion and oxidation can occur several weeks after
the components are cleaned.

Source:  Coping with a Flood Damaged Car
( )

= = = = = = = = = =

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) offers 10 tips on
how to safely restore flooded vehicles:

1.  Do not start a flooded vehicle until a thorough inspection and
cleaning is performed.

2.  Take immediate steps to dry the vehicle as much as possible so as
to        reduce the length of time vehicle components are exposed to

3.  Contact your insurance carrier or agent and promptly report the
exposure of your vehicle to water or flood.

4.  Record the highest level of water exposure on a flooded vehicle.
This will aid qualified technicians in evaluating and taking the
necessary steps to correct any damage.

5.  Contact a certified technician to arrange for an inspection and
evaluation of the flooded vehicle.

6.  Have a qualified technician inspect all mechanical components,
including the engine, transmission, axles, brake and fuel system for
water contamination.

7.  Have a qualified technician flush and replace all fluids, oils and
lubricants, and replace all filters and gaskets for components exposed
to water. While a vehicle may drive with fluids that have experienced
water intrusion, extended internal exposure to water will increase the
level of damage to the engine and other vehicle components.

8.  Many repair facilities recommend a thorough cleaning of brake
parts and        repacking of bearings, particularly for rear-end
drive vehicles. In front-wheel drive vehicles, bearings are sealed.

9.  Some of today's vehicles have padding and insulation that do not
easily       release moisture. In this situation, it is most effective
to replace the materials to prevent the forming of mold or mildew that
may contaminate the entire vehicle. With mildew, a repair that may
have cost only $100.00 can easily escalate.

10.  Have a qualified technician inspect all wiring and electrical
components exposed to water. While many components are protected from
casual water exposure, extended flood exposure may have lingering
effects. In some instances, difficulty due to water exposure will not
surface earlier than 90 days, when computer and other electrical
components begin to corrode.

Source:  The Auto Channel
( )

= = = = = = = = = =

Listed below are just some of the difficulties you will encounter with
restoring a flooded car:

Floodwater must be drained from the engine, transmission, brakes, and
fuel system, and bits of mud must be cleaned out.

Problems will also arise if too much water mixes with the oil,
transmission fluid, brake fluid, or antifreeze.

The small electronic parts under the hood and in the dashboard are
especially susceptible to water damage. Controls for door locks,
windows, and interior climate tend to be difficult to clean.

A flooded car may develop many expensive to fix problems down the
road: corrosion, electrical, electronics, wheel bearings,
transmission, etc.

= = = = = = = = = =


BODY CLEANING: Do exterior cleaning as quickly as possible. Sediment
remaining in contact with the paint for a prolonged period will stain

INTERIOR: Remove the mats, carpets, seat covers, seats, and cushions
and give them a thorough washing with a low pressure hose.

Use a low pressure, high volume water hose to wash the interior. Keep
the rain drain opening in the bottom of the doors and quarter panels
open. Flood water past the door glass to clean the inner door and
quarter panels.

Wash all upholstery on both inner and outer surfaces using a high suds
detergent and a soft bristled brush. Allow to dry thoroughly.

MOTOR SUBMERGED: If the motor was submerged, remove all spark plugs,
drain the motor oil, transmission oil, and rear differential grease;
then turn the motor over by hand to force water from the cylinders.
Place each piston on top dead center and blow compressed air into the
cylinder through the spark plug hole to dry and clean the cylinder.
Place 1/8 of a pint of oil in each cylinder and again turn the motor
over slowly by hand.

WATER IN CRANK CASE: Usually just drain and flush the oil.

MOTOR TOP: With each piston on top dead center, blow compressed air
into spark plug hole. Flush valve and pushrod assemblies. Blow out
intake manifold.

CARBURETOR: Just clean.

TRANSMISSIONS, STANDARD: Drain, flush, and refill

TRANSMISSIONS, AUTOMATIC: Drain, remove pan and clean screen. If
sediment is present, remove torque converter, lower cover and clean.

OVERDRIVE: Drain and flush.

CLUTCH, STANDARD DRIVE: In heavy sedimentation, the clutch lower pan
should be removed and cleaned. Water can be used to wash up into the
clutch assembly.

BRAKES, MASTER CYLINDER: Remove the master cylinder, empty the
reservoir, clean and replace.

POWER BRAKE: Remove the vacuum cylinder breather hole filter and clean
or replace. Drain the water from the power brake cylinder. Also drain
and flush the master reservoir.

BRAKE DRUMS:  Wipe or blow clean. Repack the front wheels. If there is
a heavy accumulation of sediment, remove and clean the rear brake

STEERING GEAR, HOUSING: Remove oil filter plug, force water out by
forcing grease in. Removal is not necessary.

REAR AXLE: Remove the grease plug. If there's water, drain and flush
the unit with kerosene.

RADIATOR: In heavy sedimentation the air passages of the radiator core
may become plugged with sediment. Blow or wash out the air passages.

EXHAUST SYSTEM: Remove any sediment that has completely blocked the
rear portion of the tail pipe. The operation of the motor will blow
out any remaining sediment.

AIR CONDITIONING: The air-conditioning unit is a sealed unit, but can
accumulate sediment in the condenser unit air passages. The condenser
is located in front of the radiator and has the appearance of a
radiator. The evaporator unit on the dash is a radiator-type unit.
Remove the blower unit to check for clogging of the air passages. Wash
air passages and clear if blocked by sediment. The blower motor may be
washed and blown dry. The magnetic clutch should be tested after the
car is started. If it does not release, remove, clean and replace.

GENERATOR: Remove, flush it with water, dry with air pressure,
lubricate, and replace.

SPARK PLUGS: Just dry spark plugs that have been submerged.

IGNITION COIL: Wash and dry the unit.

DISTRIBUTOR: Remove, disassemble, wash, dry, lubricate and replace. If
removed, the motor must be retimed. The condenser in the distributor
should be replaced.

VOLTAGE CONTROLS: Remove cover and blow dry. Clean the contact points.

WIRING: Allow wiring to dry thoroughly. It is not damaged by flood waters.

BATTERY: There will seldom be any damage to the battery.

STARTER: Remove, disassemble, wash with water, dry and replace.

SOLENOIDS: These are sealed units and require no service exterior
cleaning, unless trouble develops in starting the car.

SWITCHES: Replace only after they do not operate.

clean reflectors and replace.

RADIO: Remove, dry, clean with air, and replace.

HEATER MOTORS: Remove, wash, dry, and replace if they do not operate.
Examine heater core air passages for sediment. Blow out with air or
wash out.

ELECTRIC WIPERS: Motor may need washing with water and drying.

INSTRUMENTS: Remove, dry, clean, and replace.

GASOLINE TANKS: If the removal of the bottom plug reveals water, drain
and flush the tank.

SPEEDOMETER: Remove, disassemble and blow clean with air. Lubricate
and replace. Lubricate cable.

DEODORIZING: Deodorizing should generally not be necessary. Any
deodorizing work should be delayed until such time as the upholstery
is entirely dry.

LUBRICATION: All units from which the lubricant has been drained
should be lubricated and the chassis should be lubricated after
washing the under part of the car.

Source:  After the Flood
( )

= = = = = = = = = =

According to John Nielsen, director of AAA?s Auto Buying and Auto Repair Network, 

"Total restoration of a flood-damaged car can be as extensive and
expensive as restoring a classic car," Nielsen warned. "Compare the
value of the vehicle to be restored to the cost of restoration before
proceeding with flood-related repairs."

Source:  AAA Offers Advice for Owners of Flood-Damaged Automobiles  

Just a rough estimate on how much it would cost to restore a car:

" takes an average of one and one-half years at 40 hours a week.
It costs the customer an average of $160,000.00 to do. The parts,
materials, machining and plating bills alone for a full restoration
can go well into the $50,000.00 mark."

Source:  Auto Restorer On-Line
( )

I can understand if you have a flooded car with sentimental value and
you wish to restore it but in my opinion, for an average car, I don?t
think the time, effort and amount of money involved would be worth it.

I hope this answers your question.  If you would like clarification
before rating my answer, please do not hesitate to ask!

Google Researcher

Google Search Terms:

How to restore a car that was flooded
( ://

Cost of car restoration
( ://
bigalofechopark-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
nenna-ga: thank you for your thorough and detailed answer.  I'm
certain that many will reference this for months to come.

Subject: Re: restoring a drowned car
From: nenna-ga on 11 Sep 2005 13:01 PDT
Thank you very much for your generous rating and tip.  I hope that
this information will help those that have been subjected to such
unfortunate circumstances and I wish all of those people the best!


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy