During the buzz of Hurricane Ian as it swept through southwest Florida on Wednesday, you may have seen your car submerged up to its windows or, worse, floating away from its parking spot.
Will you be able to drive it again?
It depends on whether your car took on fresh or salt water, says Mike Boudreau of T&D Automotive Services, a longtime auto repair business north of Naples.
But the first thing to do, he pointed out, is to call your insurance company. For those who have or can get photos of the car during the storm, these are handy, but not essential, for making a damage claim.
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Then Boudreau, who has been in the repair business since 1986, offered these recommendations:
Salt water flooding: Await word from your insurance company on the extent of coverage. Salt water damage can almost necessitate rebuilding the car, he said, because it accelerates rusting.
“They probably won’t want to fix it. Damage like this could cost thousands of dollars in components and parts. There may be mold on the upholstery. You’ll have to replace all that upholstery,” he said. declared. “All computers and wiring – all car components – can rust. If you had a car in three feet of water, there’s probably no repair.
“Even if the car starts, that rust doesn’t stop. In two to three months, you start having all these problems. Computers break down, fans don’t work. Things start happening.”
Freshwater floods: Dry the car first, Boudreau said.
“Unplug the battery so none of the circuits can start. With water in your car’s components, it would be like putting your laptop in the tub and trying to start the laptop,” he said. he declares.
Almost everything in cars now requires a circuit, from the ignition to the door locks, from the seat adjusters to the windows to the familiar radio equipment – “Anything above the floor. You could have 40 at 50 modules starting a foot above. I don’t think the car would catch fire or anything, but it would cause a short circuit.”
Then open doors and windows and circulate the air through fans. Make sure the car is completely dry before attempting to drive it.
There’s still no guarantee the car will work, Boudreau said.
Ironically, T&D was without power and not open Friday, although Boudreau hopes to reopen Monday on a limited basis. His first attention on Monday will be to people whose cars have been flooded: “Those were most of my calls,” he said.
Lee Aladin of Collier Mobile Brakes & Oil also answers calls from flooded cars. He pointed out that people should also check their oil and transmission dipsticks for signs of water in those fluids. They should be drained and filled with fresh fluid if they have taken on water.
“Also check your air filter,” he warned. If there is water or dirt, a new one is needed.
Harriet Howard Heithaus writes for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Contact her at 239-213-6091.