Will Water Damage Total a Car? - An Expert's Perspective

When it comes to water damage and cars, there is an old general rule that once the water reaches the dashboard, the car is likely to become a total loss. However, with today's cars having more electronic components and costing more to repair, a car can be destroyed even if no water enters the engine. If the water rises between 6 inches and one foot above the ground, this could be considered sufficient to total it. This is because if water enters the engine compartment or inside, many key parts and components will be damaged too much to drive safely. It's important to note that the engine, transmission and transmission systems are particularly vulnerable.

The worst thing that could happen is water flooding the fuel, braking and power steering systems. Generally speaking, anything that uses its own fluids runs the risk of floodwaters leaking out and diluting key fluids. Floods can also damage your car's engine, electrical system, and transmission. If your vehicle's engine is submerged in flood water, there's a chance that your car could be declared a total loss. Your comprehensive auto policy plan can pay for the repair or replacement of your vehicle, minus your deductible.

Yes, for most people with a flood-damaged car, total loss is their only option. A car is considered a total loss when the cost of repairing it is greater than the cost of replacing it. In fact, some states have rules called total loss thresholds that require insurance companies to consider a car as a total if the cost of repair exceeds a certain percentage of its value. Comprehensive car insurance, sometimes referred to as “other than collision coverage” covers non-collision-related damages that are beyond your control, such as damage caused by falling rocks or other objects, theft, vandalism, hitting a deer and flooding. Cars with only a small amount of flood damage can be repaired but more often than not, cars are ruined if they suffer a significant amount of water damage. And while your comprehensive insurance would cover your car if the engine were damaged by water and declared a total loss, it wouldn't cover water damage if you left your car's windows or sunroof open before a storm. Your insurance also wouldn't cover water damage that occurred over time because you didn't properly maintain your vehicle.

While it could be said that road salt is initially more harmful to cars because it is corrosive, driving with high water levels is quite bad for any vehicle. In some cases, your car insurance may pay for damage when the car is damaged by water and is not full. Nearly every state requires drivers to have some form of liability coverage but the liability protection of a policy doesn't cover water damage at all. Nor would your car insurance cover water damage that occurred over time because you didn't properly maintain your vehicle. For those looking to purchase a used car, it's important to avoid buying one that has been damaged in a flood. Comprehensive insurance doesn't protect your car when water damage is due to your own negligence.

Therese Lamkins
Therese Lamkins

Proud social media scholar. Passionate food scholar. Infuriatingly humble zombie maven. Evil entrepreneur. Professional social media evangelist.

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