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Partially Flooded Volvo Worth Repairing?

During a storm, our 2001 Volvo wagon slid into a water-filled ditch. The rider side front end was angled in the water for 2-3 hours, and when we went back to rescue the book bags the water was up to, but not on, the seats on that side. The driver’s side had no standing water. After the tow, we scooped out water, and the car did start and stayed running 5-10 seconds max. So, the electrical system has some life, the engine cranks, no water in the oil…but the air filter was soaked. The car looks great and does not smell!! Is it worth repairing? How much would YOU spend on the repairs? A new car is not an option…

My first time off-roading in 2004 with my 2000 Blazer ended in a similar fashion. There was about 8 inches of water and mud in the passenger side interior. After getting towed out I was able to drive it home though.

When I got home I removed the seats, the carpets and the padding down to the bare metal. I also removed the center console and the door and kick panels. I cleaned and dried out the wiring connectors. I did not let the truck sit because I was afraid of corrosion in the wiring harness. If I had gone through the insurance company it would have been totaled. The only expense was for an oil and trans fluid change. I still have the truck.

Ed B.

Did any of the water make it to the intake manifold? Is there any evidence of water inside the cylinders?
I’d take the entire filter and related pipes off to make sure that there hasn’t been any water going into the engine before I’d try to start it…

Are you not going through your insurance company here?

I hope you pulled the carpets and padding immediately to start getting them dried out, unless you like breathing mold. As for the seats, I’m not sure you can get those safely dried out, so you might have to go the junkyard route on those if you’re trying to save money.

It wouldn’t be surprising to have some issues with electrical components and connectors over time due to corrosion.

Has anyone looked at this car to assess how much would need to be repaired and estimate costs?

Mechanically, if the air filter was saturated with water, certainly the spark plugs should be removed and the cylinders evactuated, a squirt of oil on each and an oil change. Water likely made its way into whatever cylinder(s) had their intake valves open. Beyond that, you’ll perhaps need a new battery, new cables, and depending pon where the underhood fusebox is the cover would need to be removed and the insides evacuated and dried out (if there’s and sign of water penetration). You may also need to drain and refresh the power steering fluid. The alternator might need replacing. The exhaust system may need to be changed. It’s a good bet that the water went into the tailpipe, the air escaping through that open valve I mentioned.

The brake system, the tranny, the cooling systems, and most of the engine are pretty well encloded systems. However if the water got into the brake fluid reservoir you may want to purge and refresh the brakes. Brake fluid is ligter than water, so the water would drop below the brake fluid wher it’d get into the system. Brake rotors corrode almost instantly, so they might need replacing.

Body rot…well, you can expect it to do so. How long you’ll get out of it will depend on how extensively you disassemble the interior and how well you dry out everything that absorbs water.

Electrical problems will be anybody’s guess, as will brake line corrosion.

You started the car and then you stopped it after 10-15 seconds? Or, you started the motor and it stalled out after 10-15 seconds and would not restart?

If there was water in the air cleaner box, then water got pretty high into the motor compartment. Frankly, I’d have checked out the air cleaner and if there was evidence of water in there I would not have started the car until more parts could be removed to see if water entered more critical parts of the motor.

Since you did start it and it ran I have to assume it was not hydrolocked. If it stalled and will not turn over then it might be hydrolocked now.

No way to tell about damage and costs until either more info is given or more work is done to investigate the condition of the motor.

It is possible an oil change is all the motor needs. A real concern is water getting inside the transmission, steering rack, and CV joints. These items are “sealed” to keep water from splashing inside them, but are not completely sealed to deal with being totally underwater for any length of time. I would recommend changing every fluid in the car; coolant, brakes, power steering, motor oil, transmission fuild, differential fluid(s), transfer case (if it is AWD), all of them. That will run into several hunderd dollars right there unless you DIY.

If it looks like the alternator was underwater, then it will need to be replaced. The power window motors and mechanism on the flooded side of the car are suspect. They may dry out a work for awhile, but don’t expect them to last a long time. I wouldn’t replace them until they stop working, but my guess is one or several will fail in a year or two. The power seat motor and switches in the passanger seat are questionable, and I’d wait a long time before trying the heated seat function.

If a new car isn’t an option, you have to spend what you have to spend. A '01 Volvo is a car I’d not want to own due to high and frequent repair bills. A water logged Volvo is even worse. But if another car isn’t an option get ready to open up your wallet or check on the credit limit(s) of a couple of your credit cards.

Yup, what our uncle^ said. It wasn’t a good idea to start it.

I agree, but since it was only idling and didn’t have all the car’s inertial energy pushing the crank around from the back end, he might have just hydrolocked without breakung anything. I’m betting the motor will be okay. But, than, I’m an optimist.

Will you be buying me an our uncle lunch this time, MB? :smiley:
I’m an optimist when it comes to lunch…

Sure. Love to.
I hope the OP posts back once the car’s been evaluated.

@thesamemountainbike and @RemcoW - lunch sounds good pick a spot in NE PA and I’ll be there!

It would be interesting to get updates from the OP on this one.

The Cheesecake factory in Copley Plaza, Boston?
Yeah, I too would like to hear from the OP. But I think he needs time to get the car looked at.

If the engine is damaged, the cost to fix the Volvo will probably be able to buy you a new vehicle.

just sayin’.

@thesamemountainbike and @UncleTurbo: either sounds like a plan.
I’ll likely be in Hershey PA for the ACAA fall meet, if you guys go to vintage car shows.

I am curious and certainly hope that the poor Volvo car will drive down the road, looking boxy, for a couple more years.

The real issue is exactly where the water-line was under the hood…Many cars hide the “computer” behind the right-side kick-panel…Did THAT area go under water? How far back on the hood did the water come?

Good point.
If so, pull it out and put it in a bag with rice, letting it sit for a couple of days. Rice is a natural desiccant and will draw the moisture out, if it isn’t too late and can be saved.