Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fixing a Flooded Car

After meeting with the insurance adjustor today, I felt like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders.  

Against all odds, my car hasn't had any mechanical or electrical problems.  I'm chalking that up to the fact that the water didn't rise much higher than the floorboards.

The damage was assessed at around $950 to strip the seats and carpet, clean everything up, and put everything back together again.  The labor alone was going to be $550!  Because my deductible is $500, we were essentially going to pay just the labor for the fix.

Fortunately, Ryan was a paint and body man for ten years before he joined the Navy.  So he promptly declared he wasn't going to use our deductible to pay for something he could do for free.

So we (and by "we," I mean "Ryan") are doing this ourselves!  Talk about the ultimate DIY.  So, how does one fix a car with minimal flood damage?  Well, ya gotta strip.
The car, you sick bastards!

Ryan started by pulling out all the seats.  That's the backseat, which is basically a giant, water-filled piece of foam.  We let those hang out in the sun all day to dry out.  The front seats are safe, but that back seat is still pretty swampy.  I'm really hoping we can salvage it, because a new one would be around $1700!

Then you pull up your door seals and start pulling up carpet.  Which may or may not have moldy french fries stuck to it.  Yum.
On a side note, I did find $1.82 in change UNDERNEATH all the carpeting!  Cha-ching!

Next, get completely grossed out by the urine-colored water hanging out in the floorboards.

Once everything is stripped out, dry everything out (this is where a Shop-Vac comes in handy), and then give everything a good wipe-down with a bleach and water solution to kill any mold spores still hanging around.

It's also VERY important to check all connectors on your wiring to make sure nothing is wet and/or corroded.  (Make sure you disconnect your battery before playing with ANY electrical components!)  If the connector got wet but isn't corroded, you can remove it, dry it out, and then add a little silicone.  If it was corroded you're going to need  to replace it.

Now, I'm all for pulling out seats and stuff, but I don't play around with electricity, so unless you (or your significant other) is experienced with this kind of thing, just suck it up and take it to a shop.  It's just not worth having to replace your entire electrical harness down the road, causing a car fire because of faulty wiring, or electrocuting yourself.

Luckily the carpet removed in one big, molded piece, so after it dries out, I'm going to try using my carpet cleaning machine to remove the boys' locker room smell.  If that doesn't work, a new carpet piece can be found online for about $140.

We're also really lucky that not a lot of electrical is run along the floorboards of my car, so at this point I'm pretty much just hoping that we can salvage the seats.

Needless to say, I'm going to have a really clean car by the time this is all over!

 And I'll leave you with one more gratuitous water-in-the-floorboards-shot.



  1. Honestly, it may not be worth trying to salvage a flood-damaged car. The amount of money that can go into fixing it can be too overwhelming. Insurance companies usually consider a flooded car a total loss. However, there are very affordable pre-owned cars that you may want to check-out in case your car does not perform any miracle at all.

    Erwin Calverley

    1. If my car had sustained any serious damage I would have totalled it out and taken the insurance money. Fortunately, as I stated in my post, my car didn't sustain any mechanical or electrical damage - I was very fortunate that the only issues I had were wet seats and carpet.

      I was also willing to give it a gamble because my car already has a salvaged title, so I would only have gotten $500 for it anyway had I decided to total it out.

      I'm well-acquainted with the insurance process and having to buy new (old) cars (I didn't have the best driving record as a teenager) and I was NOT looking forward to having to do it again, and I'm glad I didn't have to. :)

  2. You’re lucky that none of the important parts of the car got wet. Otherwise, you would really need to find yourself a new car to drive. The usual problems when it comes to water damage are electrical, which can really cost a lot! But from the looks of it, your problems are that the interior is going to be more brittle and the padded dash might crack, so they’re relatively minor.

    @Phil Craig

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  4. Floods can really leave such mess in its wake. Even more maddening how they are natural occurrence, with that premeditation about them. It's almost impossible to anticipate them and to face them down, which has a lot of implications to our possessions, such as vehicles. Yet it's a given that we can account for the ramifications. So much that it's duty. But that's just me.

    Yvonne @ Georgetown Exxon