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Like other questions I've read before posting this one, I was driving through unfamiliar territory during a storm. I was coming down a bridge and it was dark and I couldn't see that the street was badly flooded. I was going about 44 mph (coming off the interstate), and I hit this water hard. I mean I crashed into water. Not just drove over it. I don't know how severely deep it was, but it splashed all over the windshield, It slowed me down to 20 mph and a small speaker and ink pen got thrown from my passenger seat, but my plate of food didn't move.. and water made it into the engine compartment. but since nothing was thrown from the seats, I'm not sure how hard I actually accelerated.

Then while I am stressing about what just happened, and going much slower, I turn the corner and hit deep water. and I am in it. I don't know how deep it was because it was dark and I was too afraid to open my door and check like I would when I am expecting deep water. I just knew it felt too deep and that if I stopped I would be in big trouble.

so with no alternative that I could think of, I hit the gas to keep positive pressure on the tailpipe and to get out of there as quick as possible. to maintain 20 mph I was revving to like 4000 rpm. Maybe I panicked over nothing, maybe I panicked appropriately. maybe I did the wrong thing. I don't know, and I didn't go back to check how deep the water was because it didn't seem like a good place to be.

my car seems to be running fine though. I had a brief instant 15 minutes later when I got stuck at a light and while accelerating my car had a little trouble shifting gears. it stuttered a bit between shifts like it was trying to, failing and then trying again. It's an automatic transmission. but I didn't experience anymore issues for other stoplights. No weird noises or anything. When I finally got home and felt safe to get out and inspect. With the car continuing to run, I checked and the radiator was steaming, but it stopped after a bit. The steam didn't smell sweet, and I think it was just water trapped. (but for 15 minutes?) no oil on my oil filter. my neighbor pulled my dipstick and it didn't appear to be wet with water, but it was dark with just a flashlight to see.

So my car doesn't seem permanently damaged. But hitting that water real hard and driving through potentially too deep water has me nervous of

a) cracking the engine block (cooler water hitting the engine 220F). I don't know how much actually penetrated the front of the car, the radiator, fan to get to the engine, but there was some puddles on the air filter which brings me to my next concern.

b) water getting sucked up into the engine.

are these valid fears? water didn't get into my car, so I don't think the water would have been sucked up drastically, but how little is enough to cause issues. and should I be worried about my engine block getting cracked?

I'm going to be checking my oil and radiator fluid everyday for the next 2 weeks because I am terrified. A broken radiator I can fix myself for the cost of a radiator (100 bucks or so). but a cracked engine or damaged internal parts due to water, I read that would be in the thousands... :(

  • Do you notice any change in braking performance? – Zaid Feb 11 '18 at 6:39
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So, if it did not die in the water then the engine has not ingested water so that should be fine ( no bent con-rods etc).

The impact may have damaged some of the front bodywork - but you don’t mention that so it may only be minor. It may have stressed the radiator which may fail earlier or it may be fine.

One thing to consider is all the electrical connections and units that may have got wet - a spray with WD40 or similar should help here.

Water may have affected the braking untill they dried out - by now that should be back to normal.

It sounds like you were lucky - relatively: no damage but this does raise the adrenalin level!

So do what you have been doing and keep an eye on it - it sounds as if it is fine - hydraulic lock is instant and usually catastrophic and, for you, that did not happen.

  • +1. Also note that the poor shifting could have been caused by water hitting the electrical connections. Also, gearboxes, crankcases and differentials require a breather pipe; did any water get into the oils in those three locations? – yollooool Feb 11 '18 at 16:04
  • @yollooool the OP did say he was checking the oil level. – Solar Mike Feb 11 '18 at 16:10
  • @yollooool while I'm pretty sure the wires and everything got wet because of the water left on the battery, and other places after having driven another 15 minutes or so, it doesn't seem like the electrical system has been shorted out or harmed permanently. Maybe at that moment? I'm not going to be driving and have the computer just fail on me? Also I don't know about the oils in those places. I am checking the oil with dipstick. It seems fine so far. my car doesn't allow me to check the transmission fluid. It so happens that I am due for a transmission fluid change in 1000 miles anyway. – Grandpa2390 Feb 12 '18 at 14:48
  • I mean for contamination for water in the diff/gearbox/crankcase. You don't want water in these locations. @Grandpa2390 No, I highly doubt any serious/permanent damage has happened. It sounds to me like it's just a temporary thing. If you get starting problems within the next week or two, try attaching a jump lead from the negative battery terminal (supposing that's the car's ground) and then onto the engine block. If this allows it to start up, you've almost certainly got a poor body ground strap. – yollooool Feb 12 '18 at 18:17

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