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Steam and weird noise after driving through puddle

Tonight when I was driving home, I drove my 1999 Buick Regal through a deep puddle kinda fast- the water went up to the windows on my car.

A few seconds later, when I was pulling into my parking space, my car started to make a “mrrrrrmrrr” sound and I noticed steam coming off the right side of my car where the puddle had been. I was able to park and check under the hood but there was no smoke- just some steam and a little bit of a burning rubber smell. There seemed to be some water on the engine- not a lot, it was already drying up when I took a look at it.

I also noticed that there was also an oily (not all oil- just oil mixed in the the water puddles on the ground) trail from just outside the puddle to where I had parked. I let the car sit for a few minutes and then drove it a few feet to repark it. It seemed OK- it didn’t make the noise again or steam. No lights came on.

Is it possible that I’ve seriously damaged my car or could some water have come up under the hood and onto the engine causing the steam and some oily runoff?

I doubt you did any harm to your car. It was designed to survive worse than simply driving it through a puddle. The steam was from the water hitting your exhaust system. The exhaust system runs very hot and can make a lot of steam from a little water. If everything seems normal from here on out, your car was not damaged.

I have to ask: is your user name a reference to the first scene in the movie Pulp Fiction?

The steam was from the hot engine, and the noise was probably a belt that got wet slipping. If the noise is gone now, you’re probably fine. The oily puddle was probably ages of crud being washed off the underside in an instant.

If water gets into the intake, that can be a different story–this can ruin an engine in a second. Water is not compressible, so if enough gets into the engine, it’s like your pistons hitting a brick wall, and can destroy pistons, bend connecting rods, etc.