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I started driving my car after a day of very heavy rain, and discovered an inch or so of water on the floor of the back seat - apparently I had parked on top of the (insufficient) storm drain. Looking at the car closer, it's fairly apparent that because of the angle I was parked at, the water got high enough to get under the back doors, without getting so high as to do the same in front, or at least not so badly.

We've already vacuumed up the water and soaked up what else we could, but what else should I do, and in what order?

I figure that I should have a mechanic check it out to make sure that everything is mechanically OK - it drove me home just fine, but that doesn't mean I should check it.

I don't think we're going to be able to totally dry it out on our own, so I figure it will probably also need to go to an auto detailer for a more thorough cleaning, and the sooner the less chance there is for mildew.

And finally, I probably ought to file an insurance claim, but I don't know if that's something I ought to do right away, or wait until I have the respective bills to see how it compares to my deductible.

Is there anything I'm missing? If not, what order should I do these in?

  • Just putting a portable dehumidifier inside the car will probably dry it out. – HandyHowie Aug 9 at 8:23
  • The main piece of information you need is how high did the water get. If it did not reach any electrical wires then your biggest concern will be trapped water causing rust. – MonkeyZeus Aug 9 at 16:42
  • Are you sure the water came in through the door? Any chance you've got a sunroof? If the sunroof's drain lines are partially clogged it would have been easy for water to leak in that way as well. – dwizum Aug 9 at 18:03
  • @dwizum - No sun roof. I won't rule out leaking in from the trunk or something like that, but there were leaf fragments and such stuck to the lower sides of the car and roughly half of the wheels. – Bobson Aug 9 at 18:41
  • Makes sense. Just figured I'd mention. I once spent a few frustrating hours trying to determine how in the world there had been enough water in my driveway to fill my rear seat footwells with water only to find that it was leaking through the sunroof! – dwizum Aug 9 at 18:44
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Vacuuming a second time is not a bad idea. Water will slowly flow around, so an area you vacuumed dry before could get damp again. Even if there's no liquid coming up, the vacuuming process forces air to flow through the carpet.

Once you've got it to where you can press your hand down firmly on the carpet and there is no puddling, then switch to using a fan or dehumidifier.

Your climate will have a big effect on this. If you're in a generally dry climate, just opening the doors and pointing a fan at the floor on a sunny day may be all you need to do, but if you're in someplace with high humidity, you may need to use a dehumidifier.

Mechanically you don't really have much to be concerned about. The drive train is designed to get wet, so it's unlikely you'll have any mechanical problems.

The main risk aside from mold is possible damage to electrical wiring, so you may want to have the electrical system checked out.

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I would start by getting the carpet out and getting that clean and dry. This probably means removing the front and rear seats.

If you attempt this then be careful as the seats usually have wires (seat belt warning, air bags etc)

We had a couple of vehicles that had been flooded to deal with.

One was a customer who found a parking place in London on a slipway to the Thames... Tide came in... :)

So doing the job properly was necessary. Seats out, all carpet out, electrics dried and tested. all the metal channels and voids cleaned and dried. Then re-assembled - took hours, but you would never know it had happened.

  • also if you disconnect airbags you should first disconnect battery and make sure that airbags are connected before connecting battery again. – Sampo Sarrala Aug 10 at 17:56

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