Stalled in about 6 inches of flood water

Wednesday (9/17) I stalled my car in flood waters. I pushed it out of the water and onto higher ground. Some nice men came by and took out my spark plugs and had my crank my engine; water started spurting out. They kept having me do this until there was no more water coming out.

Obviously, there is no way I can know the extent of the damage until I have it looked at (I got a ride into town ona tractor and left my car sitting there 'cause the water was too high for a tow truck to come get… I’m an idiot, I know…), but I’ve heard everything from, “If you replace the oil and transmission fluid, you should be fine” to “your engine is screwed.”

Any experience with this? I’m trying to figure out my options. Can’t claim on insurance because we only have liability. Would I be able to trade it in at a dealership for at least a little bit of money? (About 6 years ago, my little Honda Civic’s power steering belt snapped and took a rod or something with it and that dealership traded it, even though it needed a new engine).

my car now is a 2002 Saturn SL.

Thanks in advance!

Oh, I should add that I was going about 5 MPH when I hit the water…

It’s possible that your engine is toast. Driving through standing water is always hazardous, and if the engine inhales a slug of water, it can “hydrolock”. This bends a lot of expensive metal inside the engine, because water in a cylinder is incompressible. We know you got water into the cylinders; the question is whether it was enough to cause damage. With the plugs out, were there any horrendous noises when you cranked the engine over? Knocking, banging, or anything else out of the ordinary? If your karma level is good, maybe you escaped serious damage and just need oil and fluid change. Was the flood water fairly clean, or was it muddy? The engine and transmission may need to be thoroughly checked out for any debris or mud that got brought in through vents or seals or the air intake. Ditto for the brakes. I don’t know if a 2002 Saturn uses cast iron cylinder liners – they may be rusty now.

You won’t know if the engine is damaged until you try it. But I wouldn’t start the engine until the oil and transmission fluid have been flushed and changed. If water came out the spark plug holes, there’s almost certainly water in the oil–which will quickly destroy the engine if you run it. Same with the tranny fluid. Have it towed in and checked.

I used to live in Tampa and one afternoon we had quite a rainfall. I was in a strange area and fording a street with which I was not familiar. I was driving a Corvette sometime in the mid 1980’s. I gunned the engine and forded, then the engine died.
The Corvette has a low air intake and I sucked water into the engine. The pistons cannot compress water, and consequently the rods, crankshaft and other parts encounter forces that they were not designed for. I believe that in my vehicle at minimum a rod was broken. I don’t remember the details now, but I do know that the car had to be towed and the repairs were substantial - around $ 6000 at that time.

Either the engine can be repaired or it may be easier in a 6 year old vehicle to replace the engine with a rebuilt one.

It wasn’t making any sounds out of the ordinary… just like it was trying to start but couldn’t 'cause there were no spark plugs in there.

The hwy. patrol towed it yesterday, so while I have a hefty tow/storage bill to pay, I’m at least closer to finding out what’s up. Thanks for everyone’s advice!

PS: I’m hoping and parying that my karma level is good, LOL.