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Car won't start after driving through water

This morning I drove through some flood water at an intersection about 2-3 feet deep during a heavy rain storm. Shortly after, my 91 T-Bird died. After three hours my car still won’t start. So I left the car and walked home. It seems the only thing I can do is let the wiring dry out for a few days. Am I being too optimistic? Is there anything else I should do? What further damage might the water have caused? Interested to know similar experiences.


If you have just we ignition parts you’re LUCKY…If however the engine sucked in water…you could be forking over big bucks for a new engine.

I had a 1990 thunderbird super coup. I did the exact samething. I had it towed to my house and let it dry out and never had another problem with it since. As long as it didnt get into your engine your thunderchicken will be ok dont get to excited just yet. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!! I miss my thunderchicken!!

2 foot deep water can splash up quite high when driven through.

For sure the starter got soaked. Hopefully there are no openings.

Sealed electrical components can take a dunking so it’s hard to say what all is damaged.

Unless the fan blew water onto the coil packs and alternator you should be alright in a couple of days.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to use compressed air and blow water out of as many valleys on and around the engine as possible to speed up the drying process, but be careful around the alternator.

Thunderchicken! Love it! Do you remember how many days you let it dry for? Just concerned I might do further damage trying to start the car when its not fully dry yet. George

George, a lot depends on what you mean by not starting. Does it crank but fail to start or does not crank? If the engine is hydrolocked, it won’t crank at all. If it cranks, chances are it is just an electrical issue and there is a reasonable chance drying will allow it to start. I don’t think it would matter if the alternator is wet or not. It should still crank (unless hydrolocked) and run off the battery.

Yes, the engine still cranks but fails to start. The weather forecast is so-so (partly cloudy/chance of showers) for the next few days so it might take longer to dry out.

Remove the distributor cap, and dry it out. You most likely have moisture shorting out the spark. You can also spray some stuff that will help dry out the ignition system. I’ve seen it at the auto parts store, called Fast Dry or something-other. Never tried it, tho.

I know better that to drive into a flooded street. You can never tell how deep it really is.

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