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Is Flood Damage worth repairing?

I got caught in a flash flood on Thursday as I was driving home (a 2011
Subarau Impreza). My car stalled out and wouldn’t start. (It wouldn’t crank at
all, just made a click). The lights still worked, though. The water was almost up
to my knees outside of the car, and after a minute or two came into the car
enough to soak the floorboards. Once I got out of the car, the cops who
showed up wouldn’t let me try to push it to dry ground. So It probably sat in
the water for roughly an 1.5 before the tow truck could get it out. I’ve filed a
claim with my insurance but it has yet to be examined by an appraiser. What
I’m wondering is whether my car will be totaled? And if not, is it worth trying to
fix? (I know nothing about cars, but have been reading that cars with flood
damage can have a host of problems down the line.)

ANYthing can be repaired… with enough money. Even flood damage.

The problem comes later when the mold appears below the carpet, the corrosion from the flooded electronics causes failures and “electric gremlins” that drive you mad and drain your wallet.

If it were me (and I can fix most all that stuff myself) I’d lobby like crazy to get the car totaled.


Agree! This car has an uncertain and troublesome future if an attempt is made to “repair” it! Go for a totaled appraisal.


In a word…no.

Do you have suggestions/ recommendations on how to convince the insurance
company to total it?

IF the insurance carrier refuses to total it, try to find out exactly why it will no longer start, fix that specific item if reasonably affordable, tear out the carpet, liner, insulation below your knees, trunk liner and carpet (if it has them), and drive it 'til it dies. It’ll either rot out or develop so many mystery problems you’ll know “it’s time”. But you might get a few more years out of it.

Meanwhile, start saving.

After hurricane Sandy here in the Northeast in 2012 I had the opportunity to buy a newer model Porsche 911 (997) for a really cheapo price but passed on it for exactly the same issues you are having, 3 feet of water wold cause so many gremlins that folks on the board convinced me to walk away. Glad I did, life has enough problems without looking for more. Lobby HARD for a total loss with your insurance company. Rocketman

Thanks so much for the advice. The guy at the shop told me that the engine is locked and that I should get a new car. I’m hoping the insurance appraiser has a similar response…

Well if the engine stalled, and you just got a click out of the starter, you may very well have ingested water into the combustion chambers and have hydrolocked the engine. That means that the pistons were trying to compress water instead of air and the result can be catastrophic internal engine damage. That’s why you don’t ever attempt to drive through standing water much more than a few inches. So with a new engine, draining all the fluids and flushing, carpets, carpet pads, maybe seat cushions, a computer or two, and drying the whole thing out, I don’t think the insurance company is going to want to touch this one and just total it. Someone will take the plugs out of the engine and try turning it over to watch for water gushing out as a first check.

Another issue that often crops up with flood cars is suspension, steering, and wheel bearing problems; either soon after or many months later.

While sitting in water, the water can creep into wheel bearings, ball joint, steering components, and so on and dilute the grease. At some point those parts may start failing. It’s anybody’s guess as to how long that will be.

Add that to the locked engine and electrical gremlins and my vote would be to have the car declared a total.

Was it salt water (like from the ocean) or fresh water? Salt water is by far the more problematic, and if it’s that, I’d pass on trying to fix it. If fresh water … hmm … well ,
the engine seizing could still be a show-stopper. Suggest to figure out what’s causing that before considering a restoration.

It’s fresh water.

Don’t confuse fresh water with fresh water. Flood water is anything but fresh. It can be filled with all kinds of contaminants and bacteria as it works its way through houses, garages, septic systems, storm drains, and so on. Full on disinfectant throughout in addition to all the other items. That’s why people cleaning up after a fresh water flood are wearing gloves, boots, masks, and still get a rash.

That can and often does also include highly acidic contamination as well as things that can “rot your socks off”. With floods, nothing can be assumed to not be dangerous to people OR metal.

My previous house, custom built, had a well and copper plumbing. The well water was acidic to the point that 13 years after it was built I started having pinhole leaks. It was deemed by testing to be safe to drink, but my pipes had different opinions. I’d patch the leaks with a piece of automotive heater hose and a hose clamp. By the time I replumbed the system, there were (if my memory serves… that was 20 years ago) there were about sixteen pinhole leaks. :fearful:

I know that method well. My parents’ circa 1976-built house in Central NH, with well water that has tested ok, has been plagued with pinhole leaks in the copper plumbing for at least the past decade, and my father has used your patching method. The problem seems to only affect the cold lines. I’ve been replacing sections of copper with PEX over the years, the latest just finished yesterday after an under-slab type K copper pipe sprung a big leak.

You need a new engine and a new interior at a minimum. I’m sure your insurer will total it. What you really need to worry about is what they offer you as a settlement. It seems to me that they should offer you enough to buy a 2011 Impreza of the same trim level and mileage from a dealer. You can determine what that is by checking the value of such a replacement at web sites like Edmunds, KBB, and NADAGuides.

It’s also a reason I recommend using only distilled water when mixing coolant for the car.

I replumbed mine with a heavier-wall copper pipe. I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was “Type L” that I used. If I were to do it again, I’d use plastic. I’ve never used PEX, but it looks like a great way to plumb.

Copper water services in newer e.g. less than 20 years old, subdivisions have been problematic in our city,seems copper has impurities that lead to failure, Quality of 1" copper lines seems to be the problem.

It isn’t the copper that’s causing the problems, Barky, it’s your local water.

Sorry @the_same_mountainbik Same water for all the 100,000 peeps, copper services mandated since 1936, not the local water, not the soil, 2 subdivisions with issues, the other 90,000 people with copper no problem, though the rest of us have lead or galvanized. bad copper eom. Happened to be from China, no possible connection eh?

It was determined by professional analysis impurities in the copper caused the failures.