Water damage to cars from Hurricane Sandy

I am hoping someone can help my sister and her family. They live in Long Island and their cars were flooded up to the electrical system by salt water. Though the cars are running their mechanic said the salt water is fatal and their cars are “totalled.”

Does anyone know if that’s true and anything they can do to salvage them?

many thanks,

Anytime water gets into the electrical system of a vehicle be it salt water or not things start to corrode. Problems might not show up immediately after the vehicle is dried out. But as time goes on more and more electrical problems begin to plague the vehicle. Consider the vehicle totalled if the electricals were submerged.


Ask A Car Insurance Agent Or Adjuster.

I believe that even though they are trying to save the company money, they will total a flood car in a heart beat, knowing the unending problems that will result.

Have you ever read the accounts of unscrupulous dealer buying up and reselling flood cars to unsuspecting buyers ? There will be a new inventory available soon. TV news shows will probably cover this story at some time.

This is where that “comprehensive” insurance they paid for will pay off.


If they run they easily could have issues later. If you have no insurance covering this damage then wash them normally at a car wash and hope. The statement you gave from the mechanic does not have much detail. All the cars on long island are sprayed with salt year round. If the car runs then not too much immediate damage. Most cars can go in salt water up to the floorboards without major issues as most of the wires are higher. As long as the interior was not flooded with saltwater you may be ok. I really do not know what you mean flooded up to the electrical system.

@Meema, here’s a discussion on flooded cars. There is also a link to a Tom and Ray segment on the same subject. I suggest that your sister contact her insurer immediately to have the cars assessed for damage.

If salt water got near anything electronic, it is very likely totaled. You could wash things off very thoroughly with distilled water, dry it off and then put it in a bag with rice. Believe it or not, rice is a natural desiccant and may get rid of whatever moisture is left.
You can get lucky and have everything work just fine again,. The problem with salt is that it is highly corrosive and is that small amounts of salt may still be present - that can cause all sorts of weird intermittent problems. If you can get to what has been flooded, try it. You have nothing to lose.
If it doesn’t work, whatever unit affected may need to be replaced. If enough electronic modules can’t be brought back to life, it could become cost prohibitive to replace them all and the car could be done for.