Mustangs and Water

Living in Phoenix for 30 years, I drive through lots of dips in the road that fill up with water when it rains. The ones on pavement are called storm sewers. The others are washes. My son recently drove my 04 Mustang GT convertible through a dip when it was raining. It had about 4 inches of water running in it at the time. Something I’ve done many times without incident. This time, the engine stopped and upon inspection of the air filter (water logged) the diagnosis was “water locked”. Pulling the coils and plugs a week and a half later confirmed the presence of water in the cylenders. We installed a re-manufactured engine and are back on the road again minus the $1K deductible on the insurance. Both Ford and the insurance adjuster confirmed that the problem is that the air intake is ducted through the wheel well. Now, when it rains, I’m constantly worried that the engine will die, clearly diminishing the enjoyment of my car. What I want to know is how frequently does this happen in Mustangs. I was told it happens a lot to some other cars, though I don’t recall which makes and models. To me this is a serious design flaw that not only comprimises the enjoyment of the vehicle, but also safetly. Do any of you have similar experiences? What can be done to lessen the problem?

I have a 2003 Mustang GT. I also have an aftermarket cold air kit on it. The stock unit does not take in air from the wheel well, it takes air in from the bottom of the engine compartment. However it’s up high enough that you should be able to go through 4 inches of water without incident. The aftermarket kits (mine included) do take in air from the passenger side wheel well, but there should a be a black plastic splash shield that covers the interior of the wheel well, the air filter (almost always a conical oil guaze type) sits between the splash guard and the actual metal of the fender. Either your splash shields were missing (provided you have an aftermarket intake) or your son isn’t telling you the full story.

Both Ford and the insurance adjuster confirmed that the problem is that the air intake is ducted through the wheel well.

Actually the problem is driving through standing water. I might add that most any car can have problems under those conditions and it often is not possible to know how deep that water really is. It is best to avoid the situation. BTW it happens to many different cars.

I guess we have different opinions. Sports cars make many tradeoffs for the sake of performance. I wouldn’t have expected the ability to go through much standing water to be something designed into a Mustang. If we were discussing an SUV, then that’s a different story.

A lot of cars (and even trucks) have a problem with air intakes that are really too low. Going through a puddle that’s a bit deeper than you think, a bit faster than you should, can end up with the engine sucking in a big slug of water. Just slow way down going through water, and stop and turn around if it’s more than a few inches deep.

Maybe you could do something to reroute the intake to a higher point, with some 2 inch or so diameter hose. Just be careful not to interfere with belts or fans or hit a hot bit of engine or exhaust. Something up near the hood might inhale hotter-than-normal air and suffer performance problems, but I suppose that’s why they have the intake down so low in the first place (to draw in cool air). Youse pays yer quarter and youse takes your chances.