What to do with a flooded clasic

My 95 Mustang GT convertible was submerged in my garage when hurricane Ian flooded us.
I am the original owner and the car was in very good condition. There is sentimental value that the comprehensive insurance could not possibly cover.
The question is what are my options

Was it salt water (tidal surge) or fresh water (downpours)?

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Tidal surge
Im 2000 miles away in Colorado. I wont be able to get down there for a week or two when the power comes back. So immediate attention isnt going to happen. Its a shame because it was in such good shape in deep forrest green metallic. I put bullit wheels on it and lowering springs so it had a nice stance.
My only hope i guess is to find a mustang guy whod want to hotrod it or spend 20 grand restoring it.
I ordered it from the factory in 95 and have the original window sticker and BOS

Was it rain water or salt water? How high was the water line and for how long? Can you post a pic or two?

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With salt water (tidal surge) you’re in for a major disassembly and cleanup. Did water get into the engine crankcase?

Insurance money will never give you enough to cover the damage. It can’t be cleaned easily. The salt will get into the electronics and many places you can’t see.

Sorry to say, but unless you have THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS to spend…Move on and be happy you’re alive and safe.


I’m afraid the car is totaled.

And I feel sadness for you people.




The car is totaled and cannot be fixed. The electronic parts that need to be replaced (anything that got wet…) are most likely not available from any source. The car is 27 years old and not even Ford stocks parts that long. Not to mention the fact nearly the entire interior and dash assembly needs to be removed and dried or replaced.

Ian hit me too. It is just a car. Be happy you are alive. Sorry for your loss.

edit: Be sure to do a little research on the actual value of the car. Look for 94-96 Mustang with similar miles and equipment. KNOW what your car is worth before insurance offers you a check. They likely will try and low-ball you. Show the adjuster pictures of the car and any records you have. Good Luck


I really hate to hear that there is no use trying to dry the electronics right away. I know the entire interior would have to be immedately stripped and dried or replaced. After worrying about the electronics and mold, all of the fluids. But geeze I don’t know, I might try anyway. But if you don’t have electricty and everything else is a mess, guess priorities are priorities.

Really a God awful shame to see the damage.

You could dry it out and hope for the best. Change engine oil, trans fluid, rear axle gear oil, and see what happens. Remove the carpet and toss the underlayment.

A decade or so ago my son slid on the ice one night and his car went backwards into a creek full of ice water. It was up to the door handles and was submerged for about 3 hours or so. I volunteered to join the Polar Bear Club and went diving as the only place to connect a chain was a lower control arm. No tow hooks or anything else to attach to up top.

Once dried out it fired right up and ran fine and which was a major surprise as it was a fuel injected Ford. The ECM was also underwater and functioned fine even after being waterlogged.
We’re just thankful he survived that because if the car had flipped over he would have been deceased.

Yeah and flood waters are something else too. You have to be concerned with sewage and other contaminants any place water has touched. So gloves, disinfectant, hygiene, all stuff in short supply after a disaster.

Put a garden hose inside and fill the interior with fresh water up to just above the salt water line. Wash down the entire car with fresh water. Save the chassis! Someone with a wrecked car can donate the electronics.

Anything connected to battery + will be damaged from electrolysis. Disconnect the positive battery terminal.

Remove the spark plugs and spray oil in there and crank it. Flood the air intake with fresh water. Water will shoot out the spark plug holes. Pour isopropyl alcohol in there and crank to displace the water and let it dry with the spark plugs still out.

Engage the starter using a wire while leaving the rest of the vehicle disconnected, unless it was already damaged from having the battery in then it doesn’t really matter. Drain the oil and fill it with some other used or new motor oil and crank it until there is oil pressure after the clean out.

Water gets in to all kinds of things like wheel bearings and the steering rack. So those things need to be cleaned up with fresh water and then oil before too much corrosion happens. Transmissions do have a vent I believe, so water can get in that way.

I’ve wondered how well it would work to put a dehumidifier inside such a vehicle with the windows rolled up (except for the power cord). Things dry a lot faster in dry air.

A car that still runs and drives fine can be considered totaled by an insurance company.

Returning your car to a reliable runner will likely cost considerably more than just buying another dry car like it. That’s your best bet. But if you are set to keep this one, and have plenty of money to spend, such a thing is possible. If so …

First off don’t attempt to crank the engine until you are sure there’s no water in the cylinders. Expensive engine damage possible otherwise. The main expense for this sort of thing is that all the electrical component’s are now beginning to corrode & will be suspect indefinitely. If you are willing to replace all those parts, including the wiring harness, you might be able to get it back on the road. Even after that you’ll likely still be having rusted bearings in various places, but that’s something you could replace when they start making noise. I think you alreaday understand that by taking on this job, you’ll have to rinse clean & remove all the water from all the places it got.

I used to drive my 4WD truck though fairly deep water crossing streams on camping trips, over the axles sometimes. When that happened I’d have to drain and replace the gear oil every evening. When I got back to town from the camping trip I’d also take apart & re-lube the front hubs and re-pack the front wheel bearings. Fortunately no electrical part involvement, & only dealing w/fresh stream water rather than salt water.



Just a note that a lot of the folks have no electricity yet or running water. If there is water I’m told it’s contaminated and of limited use without bleach. Normal stuff is just not a factor yet.

It can be fixed, although it will require extensive repair/restoration. I don’t have any experience with salt water, but I have seen flood cars at the auction with mud on the headliner start and drive with a jump box. Of course the interior was full of mold and smelled terrible, but the car still drove. Parts for a 1995 Mustang are likely plentiful and inexpensive. You could probably rebuild the entire car for $20000, which is a lot of money for a salvage flood car, but still less then half what a new Mustang costs.

Years ago, I replaced HVAC actuator motors on a Katrina car. I told the service writer that the car had been in a flood, he replied, “the owner is aware and does not mind paying for the repairs”.

A person with “thousands and thousands to spend” but not tens of thousands to spend like a new car buyer.

If you have a collectible car that you rarely use it’s reasonable to insure it through one of the specialty insurers. They ask you for your declared value and they may need confirmation with photos or an appraisal, but you get insurance that reflects what you think your car is actually worth.

As a Flood Car for use as regular transportation, it’s a total loss. Take the money and run.

On the other hand as a Hobby Car with “sentimental value” it may be worth your time and effort to restore it and negotiating a buy back may be a possibility.

Start with a realistic appraisal of it’s restored value (Edmunds), the amount of damage, the parts costs and your ability to do the necessary work (professional labor will cost a fortune).
Then at that point and understanding that as a “Flood Car” with a salvage title and minimal resale value, you can make an emotional decision whether it will be worth it to you.

I fully understand emotionally being attached to a vehicle ( I am not one of those ) but these model Mustangs are not really Classics . They can be purchased at resonable prices .

After this terrible event there will be many things to solve more important than this ruined vehicle .