98 Ford Taurus - Driving through standing water

I have a 98 Ford Taurus with 67,500 miles that has a problem only when it rains. I live in South Florida and we occasionally get downpours that leave standing water until it is able to drain off.

My problem is when I drive through this water, my car loses power, the battery light comes on, I can hear a belt squealing, and the car acts like it is going to stall out, even though it has never stalled. I drive through the standing water slowly. Sometimes it won’t do anything until I am through the water, other times it will happen right away. It will also do the same thing when I take it through the car wash. Towards the end of the wash, water sprays underneath the car, and the same thing happens as when driving through standing water.

I took it to my mechanic and we replaced the splash guard, but I am still having this same problem with water getting in somehow. My mechanic posted this question on a board, but never got a response. He also had another Taurus wagon with the same problem.

Does anyone have any ideas on what else we can try to take care of this problem?

Maybe some water is getting into the intake or in the filter and causing this sputtering. I’d certainly check the fitting of the filter to the pipe that it’s on and go from there. More folks will ring in with more ideas…

When was your last good thorough tuneup? Water can cause shorts to ground in old wiring, and if this is all original…you get my point?

Your mechanic could also try to replicate the problem by spraying your ignition system components from a water bottle while the engine is running. It’s possible you have a cracked component housing.

If those spark plugs wires have several years on them, they likely have a lot of micro-fractures. If aged, change them out. If not aged, wipe them with liquid silicone to waterproof them. Ask your mechanic to use a potting compound on the electrical connectors down low. Water may be getting into them. Don’t forget a shield around the terminals on the starter. That is a live wire going to the starter, subject to being shorted by a spray of water.