Can Flood Damaged Cars Be Repaired? Is It Worth Fixing a Flooded Car?

What to do if your car is flooded with water? Can flood damaged cars be repaired at home? How much does it cost to repair flood damaged car? Does car insurance cover flood damage? Heavy rainfall and flooding are inevitable in some parts of the world, and that’s why people often ask these questions about the cars that have been in floods.

Natural calamities affect lives and properties extensively. We have seen the damages causing havoc in the life of so many people in so many different ways.

With the rise in tornados and hurricanes across the US in the last decade, floods have also become a very common natural calamity in the country. And when there is a flood in an area, the probability of flood damaged cars also gets high!

There are many instances across the country where thousands of peoples have faced flood affected car issues due to heavy rainfall and flooding. Not only that, but they have also seen their cars being swept away in flood waves when the water level is too high.

flood damaged cars
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And typically speaking, water and car have never got along together. The flood affected cars always become heavily damaged, so much so that sometimes they cannot even be taken back by the owners!

That is why sometimes it is seen that the car insurance companies settle for the claim and buy the car from the owner and sell the car in the auto auctions as “salvage.”

But it is not always like this! Sometimes the cars that have been in floods can also be repaired and reused. But is it worth it? Are flood-damaged cars good to go with? How much does it cost to repair a flooded car? Does car insurance cover if your car gets flooded?

These are some of the significant questions that might be crossing your mind right now. Worry not! We are going to discuss everything related to flood affected vehicles in the article below. Just keep reading.

What is a Flooded Car?

It might be a surprising fact, but most people do not actually understand what is considered a flooded car. Some of them think a car filled with flooded water is referred to as a flooded car, or sometimes they even think that a flooded car means it is underwater completely. Well, let’s clear the confusion.

The actual meaning of a flooded car is a car that has been completely or partially submerged in flood water for a longer period, and its body, engine, transmission, electrical system, or other mechanical parts have been damaged by it.

So, how high does water have to be to damage a car?

If the water rises 15 centimeters or 6 inches to a foot above the ground, it may damage a car. Here’s a detailed explanation of how high does water have to be to flood a car:

  • Six inches of water can reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, and if that happens, this depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling.
  • A foot of water can float many vehicles, and this is an extremely dangerous situation because as the wheels lose grip, you lose complete control of your car or truck.
  • Two feet of rushing water can float and carry away most large vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks, or buses. Therefore, you should never try to drive through flooded roads.

Mostly, when it is “flood” and not just casual rains, it is expected that the car would stand in water for a longer period. As per reports, such floods hamper many vehicles yearly, for which the car owners don’t always remain prepared also. The cars that have been in floods can be damaged at various levels.

what is flood damage car

Sometimes the car engine can get affected, sometimes the car exteriors can get damaged, sometimes the electrical system may be damaged, and sometimes it can completely become non-operating due to the consequence of the floodwater.

However, some damages can still be hidden, and detecting them would need professional intervention. So, it is advised that the cars that have been in floods must be dried well and taken to a mechanic at least for regular inspection even though you do not find any visible damage on it and it starts quite well.

Now, let’s move on to sections that will help you increase your knowledge about handling flood-damaged cars efficiently and the common problems they can cause you if not handled correctly. So, keep reading and expanding your knowledge about the flood affected vehicles.

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What to Do If Your Car is Flooded with Water?

The cars that have been in floods can get damaged at various levels, as discussed earlier. And sometimes, the dangers can be of such a kind that you may not be able to detect them until a professional car mechanic checks on them.

So, it is highly suggested that you adhere to the Dos and Don’ts of managing your car after the floods hit it. Here are some pro tips that you can rely on to keep your car and yourself safe from further disasters. Let’s take a look and learn what to do when your car gets flooded with water:

Don’t Start the Car

People often think about what to do with a flood damaged car after it is out of the flood. The first thing you must rather not do is to start it soon after it is out of the water, for it may cause more damage to the vehicle.

There may be water, mud, or other dirt particles inside your car that may worsen the damage if you start it soon after.

Look for Visible Damages

No wonder the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about what to do if your car is flooded is to check for visible damages.

Yes, checking for the visible damages is one important thing to do when the car is out of flood as it will at least help you have knowledge of the visible damages and seek a repair for the same.

Disconnect the Batteries

As most of us know that water and electricity are good conductors (plain science). Thus, if you want to prevent getting an electric shock from your dear vehicle, immediately disconnect the car batteries of the flood damaged cars.

Dry Out the Car Interiors

You are still scratching your head, thinking what to do with a flooded car? You must do this to your flood affected vehicles!

what to do if your car is flooded

Dry out the car interior by opening the windows and the doors entirely on a warm sunny day (most desirable) to ensure the car is free of any water particles. It will save your car seats and other interiors from getting more damaged due to water accumulation.

Check for Engine Oil and Other Fluids

If you don’t know what to do when your car is flooded with water, then at least know that you must check for the engine oil and other fluids inside the car.

If water somehow sneaks in and mixes with the engine oil or petrol, it can cause extensive damage to your car engine.

Check the Air Filter

If there is water in the air filter, it can be difficult for you to restart the car. So, to restore flood damaged cars, one must check the air filter and discard any possibility of water inside it.

Get a Professional Inspection Done

You might wonder, can flood damaged cars be repaired at home? Yes, they can be, but possibly if you know what the damages are.

And in most cases, normal car owners can’t detect the damages. So, it is unquestionably advised that you take the flood damaged car for a professional inspection before you start driving it again.

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6 Most Common Problems with Flooded Cars

It is understandable that it is not always possible to get a car mechanic home or take the car to a service station immediately after the heavy rain and floods.

So, it is better if you learn about some of the most common problems with flooded cars beforehand and try to detect the problem and repair them until you get professional help.

Here we have listed such flood damaged cars problems that would help you easily detect the damage of the cars that have been in floods. Read on to know what can flood damage do to a car:

Hydrolocked Engine

There are various flood damaged cars problems after the car remains underwater due to overflowing waters. But the hydrolocked engine problem is one of the most sought-after problems of flooded vehicles.

It can also be termed as the “worst” aftereffect of floods. As is evident by the name, hydro locking refers to water filling up in the car’s engine compartment through the air filter passage.

When this happens, the cylinders and pistons of the car engine get severely damaged, and therefore, the engine suffers the jolt too. Hence, it is advised you never start the engine soon after the car is out of water.

Electrical Issues

Do you know what happens when a car is submerged in water?

Despite the car windows and doors being closed, the water still manages to enter the car and reach almost all parts inside. And as there are ample electrical items inside the vehicle, the chances are high that they might be electrocuted due to long-time water connection.

And if you touch them without knowing the condition, you might well be prepared for a shock that can be fatal too!

For those who don’t know, the car dashboard, windows, side view mirrors, lights, radio, doors, and even the seats use wires for proper functionality. And thus, if somehow there is electrocution, every part of the car may be risky to touch. Get it checked by a professional before intervening.


Out of the common water damage vehicle problems, rusting is one very significant one!

Sometimes it takes many days for the floodwaters to get down when the flood is heavy. In such instances, the longer exposure to water leads to rusting of the major parts of the car, both interior, and exterior.

As metals and water never get along well, the parts that are made of metals are mostly the targets to get affected easily and faster.

common problems with flooded cars

Even if the floodwater gets down quickly and the car has been in the water for a few days, chances are still high that the metal surfaces can become rusted. So make sure you dry the car well and repaint the metal surfaces to keep rusting at bay.

Damaged Moving Parts

Many car owners have noticed severe damages to the moving parts of the cars that have been in floods.

Basically, the clutch, the brake, and the accelerator are the moving parts of a car. And as they are moving components, water can get in easily through the gap area around these parts. And that is where the problem lies!

When water gets inside these parts, it can damage them to a greater extent, and they cannot probably function well if not repaired timely.

The starter, the cylinders, and the pistons are also some of the moving parts that can get damaged due to water accumulation during heavy floods.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Most of us notice extensive growth of mold and mildew during the rainy season around our houses. This is because the constant waterlogging gives rise to such molds and mildews.

Likewise, the flood affected vehicles also remain underwater for a longer period, and hence the chances are high that mold and mildew may grow inside it also.

You can experience mold growth in the car seats, footrest carpet, AC system, handles, knobs, and other car interior parts.

It mostly grows when the water sits in the car for a longer time. So dry out your car as quickly as it comes out of the floodwater.

External Surface Damages

Are you still wondering, what are some of the most common problems with flooded cars?

Well, last but not least, external surface damages do count as one of the most significant damages caused by floods. These can also be referred to as the visible damages that you can detect and repair simultaneously.

The external damages mostly occur when there is heavy storm or hurricanes alongside heavy rains. The car surface can get scratched, the glasses can break, the tires may get punctured, and many such damages can occur to the external surface of the car.

They might still need professional intervention, but it’s at least good that they are still detectable by the car owners in the first place.

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Can Flood Damaged Cars Be Repaired?

The most common question that the car owners ask themselves after flood damages their car is; are flooded cars repairable? If you are seeking a direct answer to the question, you might get disappointed, as the car’s repair depends a lot on the extent of the damage.

Sometimes, the damage can be so extensive that repairing it can exceed the cost by almost more than its market value (yes, it’s true!), and so, repairing it would gradually not be the best decision you could ever make.

Likewise, sometimes the damages can be less extensive, so repairing flood damaged cars is an available option for car owners.

Now, coming to the things to consider before you head to repair your flood damaged vehicle. Like you need to see, how extent is the damage and the condition of your car prior to the flood. If you notice that it is better to dump the car than bear its repair value, it is advised to do so.

can flood damaged cars be repaired

Most insurance companies do not bear the repair cost if the value exceeds the total market value of the car, and in turn, they offer to pay the owner the total amount of the car and take the car as a “salvage” to sell it in auto auctions. So, the condition of the cars that have been in floods determines a lot about the extent of repair it needs.

However, if the car’s condition is fine, like if it is a new car or did not have any other technical faults before the flood damage or even if the car has suffered fewer damages in flood, then it can be repairable.

So, the ones who think if a car gets flooded, it is ruined completely should know that there is always a chance to get their dear vehicles back in action with some good damage repair professional intervention.

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How Much Does It Cost to Repair Flood Damaged Car?

Now that you know what happens when a car is flood damaged and what kind of flood damaged cars can be repaired, you would also want to know flooded car repair costs, right?

So, let’s sneak into this section and get to know the average cost of repairing cars that have been damaged in floods. But before we move ahead, it must be remembered again that the cost of the damaged car repair depends on the extent of the damage.

So, how much does it cost to repair a flood damaged car?

If you just have stains in your upholstery due to minimal floods, then the cost of repair can be as low as $20 to $50. On the other hand, if the damage is extensive and the car has got a hydrolocked engine, the cost can go up to $3000 to $8000.

how much does it cost to repair flood damaged car

The average flood damage car repair cost can go up to $12000 also and sometimes even more if the damages are extreme. These damages can sometimes be repaired at home too, provided you have proper knowledge of the same or else you can create more problems for yourself and the car.

Unless you have car insurance against flood damage, it will not be quite an inexpensive choice for you as mostly the damages caused by floods are expensive.

Thus, it is always advised you ask for comprehensive coverage of cars that have been in floods by your insurance providers so that you can save yourself from such huge expenses. Please keep reading! We will discuss more on the flood damage car insurance in the next section.

Must see: 13 Important Things to Consider When Buying Car Insurance Online

Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?

If you are experiencing damage to your car by floods and the expense of its repair seems to be heavy on your pockets, you should know that you still have a chance to ditch the expense at large. So, the basic question is; does car insurance cover flooding damage?

Yes, they do! But only probably when you have got comprehensive coverage of the same. If you have comprehensive car insurance, your car’s flood damage is covered.

Most insurance providers have different sets of comprehensive coverages other than their regular car insurance policies. It is only under these comprehensive coverages that you get paid for damages caused by natural disasters such as hail or flooding.

In the US, floods are very common, and thus, having flooded car insurance is certainly needed for all car owners. Comprehensive auto insurance is meant to cover damage from heavy flooding, along with other problems such as a car fire, vandalism, hail damage, and car theft, etc.

does car insurance cover flood damage
What does comprehensive car insurance cover? (Image credit: Geico)

If, anyhow, your insurance company denies bearing the costs even after you have comprehensive insurance for car, you have the option to fight for it legally. For it, you can take pictures of your flooded car for a better understanding of the situation.

In addition to it, the repair cost may sometimes cross the car’s market value also. And in such cases, the insurance companies can ask for taking away the vehicle from you and selling it in a car auction as “salvage” after paying you the cost of its market value.

Thus it is understood that a person can opt for a car flood damage insurance claim only when they have comprehensive coverage of the same. Otherwise, it might be difficult for them to bear the expense of damage repair (unless they are super-rich, of course!)

Is It Worth Fixing a Flooded Car? – Author’s View

If you have reached this point of the article, you already know the details of damages that floods can cause to your vehicle. You also know the cost of repairing and whether there is an option to repair flood affected cars or not.

Across the United States, experiencing river overflow, flash floods, or coastal overflooding is very common. Every year, a majority of car owners find their cars being damaged in these floods.

While people are lucky to be under shelter during such difficult times, their cars are not always spared from the adverse effects of these natural calamities. If you are wondering, can flood damaged cars be repaired, by now you are convinced that these cars can actually be repaired!

But now, the next big question is; is it worth fixing a flooded car? The answer is not a simple NO or a simple YES! It is because the damage that these floods cause to the vehicle is variable in various situations. Moreover, it also depends a lot on the market value of the car.

If the car is damaged extensively and the repair cost is above your expectations, then you should ask yourself whether the cost to repair flood damaged cars is justified or not; like is your car too old or whether it had other issues, etc.?

Sometimes even if you have comprehensive insurance coverage, the insurance companies do not cover the cost if the cost exceeds the total market value of the car. So, according to my understanding, whether you should repair your flood damaged car purely depends on the extent of damage and the cost of repairing as well!

We hope you found this guide helpful for you in knowing everything about handling and repairing cars that have been in floods. And if you still have more questions about problems with flood damaged cars, flood damage car repair costs, or flood damage car insurance, etc., please let us know via the comment section below. We would love to help you out!

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About Amy Cuban

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars. I enjoy working on cars in my spare time and love anything related to automobiles. I like using different types of car accessories, car gadgets, and innovative car care products.

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