1999 Mitsubishi Mirage with Possible Flood Damage

My girlfriend has a '99 Mitsubishi Mirage with about 170k miles on it. This car has been an absolute champ and never given her any problems at all in the past.

Earlier this week, the street she parks on at night experienced flooding from heavy rains. She didn’t see the flooding (it was drained before the sun was up) but did have water in her car the next day. She said the water was nearly up to the seat in the front passenger, and some in the back. Judging by the water level on the outside of the car, 1-2" of the bottom of the car was submerged, and only for a few hours. (I know the levels inside and outside don’t match up, and we’re not sure how – the windows/roof are watertight.)

She discovered the water as she was headed to a job interview, and attempted to drive to the interview. The car starts and runs, but “sputtered a lot” (I haven’t driven it myself) so she turned back after a block. She checked the dipstick and there is no water in the oil. It has now been about 24 hours since she last drove it.

Regarding the engine/mechanics:

1) What could be the cause of the sputtering engine?

2) Should we try to drive it again and see if the water inside has evaporated?

3) Is it safe to drive 5-6 miles to a shop to be looked over, or does it need to be towed?

Thanks in advance!

Considering the flooding rain it sustained, there’s a good possibility that the ignition system got soaked. That difference in level is probably the result of extreme rains being driven by extreme winds, and it may have even gotten driven through the vent system. That weather scenerio will easily soak and engine.

You can try driving it to a shop.

The wet inside is likely to develop mold unless the carpets and underlayment (padding) are removed. Everything needs to be thoroughly dry through and through.