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Any ideas what this could be?

I drove my 02 dodge stratus through a deep puddle last night 1/2 a mile from my home. The 2.4l DOHC engine immediately started bogging out and would barely accelerate, but in neutral it seemed to rev fine. I drove home under 3 krpm and shut the car off. Today, I checked the air filter and everything was totally dry, no signs of moisture. Checked the spark plugs and I didn't detect any moisture there either. Checked oil, and didn't appear milky.

When I tried to start it, It started very shaky, ran for a few seconds and stalled. I tried to start it again, but engine wouldn't turn over. Tried starting it a couple hours later, and it started right up. It sounded like it was running smooth, no shake, no noise. Then it just stalled and I can't get it to start again. Any ideas what it could be?

  • 1
    Any codes being thrown? – Kevin Evans Oct 10 '16 at 20:33
  • Haven't checked. Afraid to drive to Autozone. – Ben Frank Oct 10 '16 at 21:27
  • 2
    Just got it read today. Cylinder 2 misfire. – Ben Frank Oct 12 '16 at 6:42
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Your experience w/ the drive home sounds like the ECU entered 'limp-home' mode. You may have shorted out some sensor or other electronics that is keeping it from operating correctly now. Sometimes that can clear up when the parts dry off, and other times it means parts need to be replaced.

Since your air filter was dry-- and your engine still runs-- it seems unlikely that you tried to compress incompressible liquid.

Perhaps give it a day or two to dry in the hot sun (if available,) or else have it towed to a mechanic.

  • Thank you for your response! I tried again today. It started up normally and sounded like it was running smooth. I thought I'd might try to reset the ECU, but once it reached normal temperature, I put it in reverse, and that's when it started to bog again. I observed steam coming from the valve cover, so I checked the exhaust again and observed noticeable condensation drip, steam and odor. No noticeable color change to the oil though. 2 questions I have now: Where else could water have entered from? And, should I do an engine flush and how should I perform it? – Ben Frank Oct 10 '16 at 20:58
  • A loose vacuum line, maybe? That seems unlikely. Also: do you think the steam was originating from inside/under the valve cover? If so, take it off. If you see something that looks like mayonnaise, then you did get water in your oil. (Also check your fill-oil cap, although it sounds like maybe you already did.) I don't know about 'engine flush', those things sound like snake oil to me. Otherwise, the steam you saw might have originally come from some horizontal recess of the engine where water can collect, and the steam only drifted past the valve cover. – Ryan V. Bissell Oct 10 '16 at 21:12
  • Also, wait for more answers here. I'm definitely not the most knowledgeable on this subject. – Ryan V. Bissell Oct 10 '16 at 21:12
  • Thanks again. Yes, checked the fill-oil cap and dipstick hole. That's where I observed steam coming from. No mayonnaise though. I'll keep checking back here for more answers. Definitely appreciate you! – Ben Frank Oct 10 '16 at 21:19

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