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Winter is still coming on strong, and rain is still falling. We've written a lot about what to do to prepare your vehicle for the severe weather, but sometimes good preparation is not enough – even the Titanic had a bilge pump! If your car should flood this winter, it's not the end of the world, and all is not lost.

Isolate the source of intrusion

First thing that you should do if your car floods is do a quick survey of the damage. Don't tear up the carpets just yet; do a thorough visual inspection first. Obviously the carpets will be wet, but is the headliner stained? Are the pillar trims and seats stained? Make a list of everything you see, and be prepared to add to it later on.

??????????????Next, isolate the source of the water intrusion. Don't tear everything apart and clean/replace the water damage before you can reproduce the problem. Check your sunroof drains, air plenum drains (underneath the battery on most Audis with longitudinal engines), and rubber seals, like around doors and trunks. If your sunroof drains are flowing alright but there's water in your headliner, take the headliner down and check the integrity of the drain hoses. Often times they leak from where the rubber hoses connect to the hard plastic connector.

After you have figured out the source of your interior's destruction, strip out the interior of damaged parts, being sure to be methodical and organized. Look over everything and see what you need to replace, and what can be cleaned and reused. If there's mold or mushrooms on it, throw it away.

Claims get approved from hose failure

Now, tally up the cost of parts. Check your local junkyards for good interior parts, they can cost an absolute fortune from the dealer. Depending on how severe the damage is, you could be able to just get away with drying out the carpets and cleaning the seats a little. The majority of flood cars I've dealt with end up being insurance claims, so if you think you can't afford to pay out of pocket, I recommend making your insurance pay for it – that's what they're there for. One quick note on sunroof drains and insurance claims though – sunroof drains are considered a maintenance item on many cars, and flooding caused by clogged tips is regarded as lack of maintenance by some insurance companies. The majority of claims I see get approved are due to failure of the hoses themselves, not from the tips being clogged. Every case is different though, so don't get discouraged.

A flooded car is not the worst thing in the world, and can be repaired in a weekend if everything goes smoothly. If your car has water in the interior, don't waste time in dealing with it. The longer your car sits with standing water in it, the nastier it gets, and the more it's going to cost you to repair. Not to mention you'll have to strip out an interior that smells like an old sponge.

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About the Author: Chris Stovall

IMG_20140324_173718_051Chris is a journeyman mechanic from Berkeley, California, specializing in late model Volkswagens and Audis. A glutton for punishment, his spare time is spent rebuilding every component of his '83 Rabbit GTI.


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Written by :
Chris Stovall

Chris is a journeyman mechanic from Berkeley, California, specializing in late model Volkswagens and Audis. A glutton for punishment, his spare time is spent rebuilding every component of his ’83 Rabbit GTI.


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