Vehicle flood damage
Are you ready for the next wild storm, and the potential for vehicle flood damage?
Last month, the city of Hobart experienced one of worst storms in two or three decades. In fact, more than 100 millimetres of rain fell during an intense 24-hour period. In the Hobart CBD, Macquarie Street saw some two dozen cars swept down the street in a raging torrent of water that took anything and everything in its path. Insurance companies quickly determined these vehicles were a ‘write-off’. To clarify, a ‘write-off’ simply means the vehicle is too badly damaged to be repaired to a standard that is safe for road use.
While it was a ‘no brainer’ for insurance assessors to write-off all the submerged vehicles in Macquarie Street, what about those car owners whose vehicle wasn’t written off but still had flood damage? Many car owners were left inconvenienced, and unsure about what to do in all the chaos.
The bad news is that we can expect more storms in the coming months, and many expects are predicting these storms could be just as intense as what happened last month. So what can you do if your car is damaged by flash flooding, or something similar?
The first 24 hours are vital.
If your vehicle should ever experience flood damage, there’s a few steps you can take to reduce any long-term damage. Once the water level subsides, and it is safe to do so, It’s important to inspect the vehicle within the first 24 hours. Importantly, don’t try starting the car if you suspect any water has got inside the electronic system, the fuel system or the transmission. You’ll only do more damage. You should also disconnect the battery, which will protect you from the possibility of electric shock while you check around your car.
Ok. So you’re looking at the vehicle for the first time after the storm. Take a good look inside. (What can you see?) If water has managed to get in through the door seals and soaked the carpets, then the carpets will need to be dried out as quickly as possible. Left for too long, and the carpets will start to go mouldy. Once this happens the mould will create a dreadful smell throughout the vehicle that will take ages to get out. So grab some old cloths, sponges and a bucket, and start getting rid of the water. Open all the windows and doors to let the air help to dry out the carpets, and if it’s sunny then lay everything that’s been wet out to dry. Of course, if the carpets are too soaked, then the carpet and underlay may well need to come out completely, and be replaced. (For this tricky job, you’ll need to contact a car trimmer).
The higher the floodwater has risen in the vehicle, and the longer it may have been partly submerged, the greater the chance that damage has occurred, or will occur at a later date.
If water has found its way into the ‘electronics’, then it’s another problem altogether. The electronic circuitry is usually located under the dashboard. Even though the circuitry is designed with seals to stop water getting in and corroding the parts, the unit may still need time to dry out.It’s the combination of water and electricity that has the potential to fry the electrical components, and then you’ll really be up wet creek. So again, don’t try starting the car at this point.
Now lift up the car bonnet and check the dipstick. Look for water droplets, which is a tell-tale sign that there’s very likely water in your engine, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to get your vehicle towed to your local mechanic or dealership for a proper assessment.
If this all feels too hard, then there’s always the option of calling a roadside mechanic who will be able to make a more accurate assessment of the damage. You may need to be a little patient though. If there’s been a big nasty storm, there will be dozens of motorists (possibly hundreds) who will be in a similar predicament to yourself.
Above all else, don’t start the vehicle until you know it’s safe to do so.
To report life-threatening emergencies, dial triple-0 (000)
To report flood and storm damage or to request SES assistance, call 132 500
Police non-emergencies 131 444
Visit the State Emergency Service website: www.ses.tas.gov.au
Visit the TasALERT website: www.tasalert.com
For current river levels and weather conditions, check the BoM web- site: www.bom.gov.au/tas/
Listen to your local radio stations for updates.
For more information on preparing for flood, visit: www.ses.tas.gov.au
Current reported road closures are listed on the Tasmania Police website: www.police.tas.gov.au