Your garage or street was sunk by a flood or storm — and now that the waters have receded, you can see that your car has sustained some serious water damage. Water damage is one of the worst things that can happen to a vehicle — often damaging every part of the car or effectively totaling it.
However, water damage isn’t necessarily a death sentence for your car. Often, it’s possible to repair or reduce the effects of even serious water damage.
Below, we’ll cover the steps you can take to repair a water-damaged BMW.
Dealing With BMW Water Damage
Start by flushing the water out of the engine and fuel system. Do this by flushing the oil, cranking the engine with spark plugs removed and draining the gas tank if there is any water inside. Then, change the oil and test the engine with the spark plugs in. If the engine runs, and the oil doesn’t look cloudy or watery, the engine will probably be functional in the short run — however, you may need to repair or replace it in the near future.
Fuse boxes, control modules and other electrical equipment will likely need to be replaced. Some of these components may even work for a time after the flooding, but flood damage is almost always going to irreparably shorten their lifespans. Even if you can’t or don’t want to replace those components right away, you should plan to replace them in the future.
Next, you’ll need to air out the car and clean the interior as well as you can. This will take some time, and you’ll probably need some heavy-duty fans or shop vacs. You may need to remove the parts of the interior that have been water-damaged and cut out a significant amount — or all — of the interior carpeting or leather.
Any part of the car that relies on fluid — brake fluid or power-steering fluid — may have been compromised by the flooding and should be inspected.
If your car was soaked by saltwater, these steps probably won’t be effective. Saltwater flooding will generally wreak havoc on sensitive electronics and cause your car to rust rapidly after the fact. While freshwater damage can be mitigated or repaired completely, saltwater flooding is likely to damage a car beyond repair — especially if it relies on a lot of electrical and computer components, as BMWs often do.
You should also know that many mechanics won’t work with flooded vehicles due to liability issues, and the amount of work it can take to get a flooded car road-ready. However, depending on the extent of the damage and the value of the car, you may find your mechanic or dealership willing to help you out.
Avoiding Flood Damage
There are also steps that you can take in the future to make sure that your BMW won’t be water damaged again. These can be especially useful if you live in an area that’s flood-prone.
If you have control over where you park, try to avoid parking in low-lying or flood-prone areas. If you don’t, you can use water-resistant materials to help make sure that your garage or car storage space is water- or flood-proof.
If you know that a flood is coming and you can’t move your car, you can seal it as best as you can. Keep windows and doors tightly closed. Repair any cracks or damage to rubber seals if possible. You can also disconnect your battery, which can help save sensitive electric components.
Try to keep your car out of water. If you have to drive during a flood, avoid puddles and other drivers, as they can create waves and expose more of your car to floodwater. Keep the engine revving whenever your car is partially submerged.
Saving a BMW From Water Damage
It’s not always possible to rescue a car from flood damage, but it is possible some of the time. If you want to try to repair flood damage, you should start by checking the engine and any car systems that rely on fluids — like the oil, power steering and brakes.
In the future, you can also take steps to avoid flood damage — like not driving through water, moving your car out of areas that might flood and keeping your garage or car storage space as water-proof as possible.