Margate City Auto Repair

Repair Shop:
Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Salt Water and your Car.

The next week and a half is looking to be very wet and, as we are already seeing, flooding has begun. Since our flood water is salt it can be very damaging to vehicles. We’d like to remind everyone that driving thru salt water is a big no-no. Salt water is corrosive. It will eat away at your car. Anything over 4 inches will damage a sedan sized vehicle. Remember tow trucks will not rescue you until the water recedes, so as I like to say, Better safe than sorry. So, If you think the water will reach your under carriage I repeat, do not drive thru.  Electrical system and combustion systems do not like water and your car is basically these two systems. Also water plus electricity equals electrolysis (which causes the blue crude you sometimes see near battery terminals) 

If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, here is my advice to you:

  • If you are driving and find yourself facing a flood, turn around! Do not attempt to go thru the water. You never know what is under the water, but these things can happen to your car (depending on where it reaches on your car and how deep the water is):
  1. Salt water will start eating away at all metals it reaches.
  2. It can start to affect the brake lines, brake pads and rotors.
  3. If it reaches your electrical system it will start eating thru the wires since again, salt water is corrosive. And could short circuit your electrical systems and computers.
  4. If it reaches into your cabin it can damage the carpet and leave a funky smell in your car. And keep in mind most of your electronics are under your seats.
  5. If it gets inside your engine it can get into your oil, transmission fluid, and gas. These will need a flush depending on what system/s it gets in.
  6. Battery: can short and take out the whole electrical system.
  7. It can hydrolock your engine! What is a hydrolock engine? If your engine is running above an idle, like driving down the road, the force of the pistons moving upward can bend the connecting rod, crack the crankshaft, cause fractures in the cylinder walls, blow oil seals in the cylinder head, and more. If the engine is really working, a connecting rod can break and bash right through the engine block.

Hydrolocking can also occur when the engine is not running. Water fills the cylinders while the engine is not running and the starter can’t crank the engine over. The only damage you’re likely to encounter in this scenario is if the water isn’t removed quickly, and the engine’s insides will corrode. This is why in the next scenario I advise that you refrain from starting your car.

  • If you walk out and see that your car is under water, do not enter and/or start the car. (see hydrolocking above) A hydrolocked vehicle will quickly destroy itself when started.  Wait till the flooding has gone down, and have it towed to your mechanic. They can check the brake lines, and electrical system, and other parts affected by the water. If you can’t get it to your mechanic right away: look to see where the water went up to, rinse the car with FRESH water, than dry your car, again without turning it on, as well as you can.
  • If you find that you HAVE to drive thru water GO SLOW. The wake made by your car can cause the water to suck up into your engine by way of your air filter! IF THE WATER IS HIGHER than your undercarriage do not attempt to drive thru it! You could stall and be stuck until the water recedes!

Stay dry my friends and park on high ground!


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