What To Do: Help, My Car was Flooded!
If there’s one thing we know too well about cars, it’s that they aren’t very flood-resistant.
Not only do floods leave cars caked in mud, but they can also damage a car’s structural integrity. The damage can be even more severe in cars that have a large number of electric and electronic components installed in them – as water certainly does not mix well with such components. This is why floods are arguably a car’s worst nightmare.
With that in mind, and accounting for Malaysia’s unpredictable weather which could give birth to flash floods at any moment, what should a Malaysian do if he or she has a car that was flooded?
More importantly, how can we protect ourselves and our cars in such a situation? Perhaps you should take a moment to check if your car insurance is due for renewal and if you're covered for damages arising from such acts of nature.
What do I do during a flood?
Being surrounded by floodwaters the colour of teh tarik may seem like good enough a reason to panic, but this is exactly what you should avoid doing during a flood!
Keep in mind that your immediate actions are very important in ensuring your own safety and that of your car, so it is always best to perform them in a calm and efficient manner.
If your car is stuck in a flood, here are some measures you should take:
Turn off your engine
If your car engine is on and is still active while you are trapped in a flood, water can easily enter your car and damage its systems. Keep your engine turned off until the water level recedes or help arrives. Do not attempt to drive through floodwaters either, especially if they are at the same level as the floor of your car’s body or higher, as this encourages water to enter a car through its ventilation streams.
Take note of the water level
Take note of the level of water in which your car is submerged. Floodwaters usually leave traces of mud on surfaces that they were in contact with, so this should be easy to keep track of. The amount of water your car was in contact with is important information for the assessment of potential damage.
Remove valuables and debris
Remove all valuables from within the vehicle – especially if these have not come into contact with water yet. Then, be sure to clear all debris from the immediate vicinity of your car. This will prevent collisions between large pieces of debris and your car when the floodwater moves, which could in turn cause more damage to your vehicle.
Get to higher ground
Once you have taken the steps above, move yourself and those who were travelling with you to higher ground. It is important to stay out of the flood, as underwater currents can change at any time and easily sweep you away, particularly during storms.
Always remember that your own safety and that of your travelling companions must be prioritised in the event of a flood. A car can be bought again in future, but a life cannot be purchased.
What do I do after a flood?
Once the flooding stops and the water level drops, here’s what you should do to keep your car safe from extra harm:
Do not turn the engine on
You should not restart the engine of a car that has been submerged in floodwater immediately after the water level recedes. Doing so could cause damage to your car’s electronic engine control unit (ECU), which can be considerably expensive to fix, with prices for a replacement unit starting from RM7,000.
Let the car dry
Keep your doors and windows open, and drape towels over your car’s seats and floor. A wet car readily welcomes the growth of mould, and that is one extra headache that you will definitely want to avoid.
Do a thorough examination of the damage
Keep an eye on your car’s oil dipstick and air filter. If both of these have even slight droplets of water on them, do not start your car’s engine. Also take a close look at your car’s brake pads and coolant reservoir, as these are easily damaged and contaminated by water.
Remove all debris
As floodwaters often carry debris in them, look out for pieces of debris that may have lodged themselves in your car’s underbody, tires or brakes. If these are too large in nature to dislodge on your own, do not attempt to move the car until help arrives.
Call for help
There’s nothing like getting an expert to properly examine your beloved vehicle, so call your preferred mechanic or car servicer and have them take a look at your car. They will be able to give you a detailed explanation of the damages you’re dealing with, and will also provide sound advice on whether the car can be salvaged.
How do I protect my car?
It should be evident by now that dealing with a car that was flooded can be both a troublesome and expensive affair. This makes protecting your car against such a situation highly vital – and there is no protection like car insurance.
Car insurance plans fall into three categories: Third Party Coverage, Third Party with Fire and Theft Coverage, and Comprehensive Coverage. The premium you pay for an insurance plan differs with the kind of coverage you opt for, along with other factors, such as your personal risk level as a driver.
While none of the categories above provide coverage against floods by default, insurance providers often have a Special Perils option that you can attach to Comprehensive Coverage plans, and this gives you extensive coverage against floods and the havoc they can wreak.
Worried about how expensive this seems? This is not necessarily true! For a start, just think about how much it might cost to cover your repairs!
Car insurance is mandatory in Malaysia – and paying a little more today to protect your vehicle against tomorrow’s floods is undoubtedly a bargain!