Diesel Car Stalled in Flood Water

So I moved to New Orleans from VT and had an interesting experience yesterday. It poured for about 1.5 hours and when I got to my car a the streets seemed to be in various stages of flooding. Trying to get home I took the most direct route but found that the street I was traveling on had about 2’ of water so I turned onto another street to find basically the same thing. I was following another car (I believe a sedan, I was looking for a non-truck/SUV to follow) and they went through some water to get up to a main road. I followed and the car stalled out on me. As I was basically floating there a guy waded by and I asked him for a push. He pushed me a little bit but it was difficult to get me too far. So I tried starting the car numerous times and occasionally it would run enough to put in gear and move a couple feet. Finally I got it started and was able to pull out. On the main street I stalled again for a little bit but got it started and drove home without a hitch.

Question is: Besides changing oil and transmission fluid, is there anything else I should be changing/doing? Thank you.

I can’t see how driving through 2 feet of water would contaminate your engine oil or transmission fluid. If the fluid looks OK, I wouldn’t bother with it. If this is a rear wheel drive car, I would check the differential fluid if the water level was higher than the vent.

If the water was high enough to enter the passenger compartment, I would make sure the floor and carpet get properly dried to prevent rust.

Yeah, if you were able to get the car started again once you were high and dry, something probably just shorted out in the water. (as opposed to hydrolocking when water gets into the cylinders).

I would second just making sure you thoroughly dry it out and changing the oil and transmission fluid, though probably unnecessary, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I too would change the oil, but that’s the only fluid I’d change (assuming it’s a manual).

In a gas engine, water won’t stall the engine onless it gets ingested sufficiently to cause hydrolock or shorts out the ignition system. In a gas engine the explosion is initiated by a sparkplug.

But, and here’s the “rub”, in a diesel I suspect it is possible for water to be ingested sufficient to cool the cylinders to where the compressed air will not ignite the injected fuel and the engine stop…without hydrolocking. Diesels don’t use spark plugs, they compress the air to heat the cylinder and then shoot fuel in at the top of the stroke.

I’ll admit, I’m not a diesel expert and have not heard of this happening before, but it is theoretically possible.

Shorting out of something electrical, like the circuitry for the fuel pump, is also possible.

Change the engine oil and filter, that is about all you need to do. Reason being that the crankshaft seal is designed to keep oil in, not water out.

What stalled stales a diesel engine in a flood is the tail pipe being under water, thus the engine can’t “breath”. When driving through deep water, keep the engine accelerated to prevent this.

Wizard posted another excellent possibility. I consider it the best answer yet.

Vehicles made or modified to traverse deep water have their engine intakes and their exhaust tailpipes entering and exiting above the side window lines, pften above the entire cab. That prevents your problem. Since you moved to New Orleans, you may want to perform such a mod if your vehicle will accomodate it.

I can see how it could happen. In two feet of water, you have to drive really slowly to keep the water from splashing up into the engine compartment and into the air intake. If you pick up just a little speed, you can get water in all kinds of places.

Thank you everyone. It is a manual so I didn’t have the transmission fluid changed but I did have the oil changed just in case.

Based on thinking the whole thing through I would agree with Wizard that it was the tailpipe being submerged that caused the engine to stall. No exhaling will do that.

Car seems to be running fine at this point. I will keep and eye/ear out for anything odd but I think it is fine. Thank you again for all the replies.