It is impossible to say that rain should not fall simply because you have a car but you don’t have a personal, closed garage. No matter how hard you try and how well you take care of your car, it is near impossible for you to keep it away from water.
There are times you have to drive through water clogged areas, times you have to get on the road despite the heavy rain, times when you’d park your car outside overnight, under the rain during autumn and in situations like this, rainwater getting into your car, no matter how tightly locked it is, can’t be helped.
There are even car owners who live in flooded areas, and they have to deal with driving through, in, and out of the water every day to and from work.
Dire situations like this can’t be helped, and even though water doesn’t belong to the engine as it causes different malfunctions, it still finds its way there and hides away inside a vehicle’s engine.
So it is safe to say that the question you should be asking is not ‘what happens if water gets in your engine?’ but ‘what happens when water gets into your engine?’
If water gets in your engine, the water will pollute the fluids required for optimum performance, it can cause hydro locking whereby the engine begins to fail, and it can cause rust in the engine as well as electrical problems.
Can Water Get into Your Car Engine?
Emphatically Yes! It can! When you drive under the rain, water somehow finds its way into your car, no matter how tightly locked it is. When you drive through water-clogged areas and roads, water will infiltrate.
If you park your car outdoors and rain falls overnight, your car engine is at a big risk of having water trickle into it.
Also, if you live in flooded areas, you can’t help but drive into swampy, wet roads and clogged water from time to time, making the openings in your car gulp in some water. So, yes, water can, and will get into your car engine at some point.
Asides from the ways stated, there are many other different ways that water can get into your car engine. Therefore, knowing what to do immediately after your car gets flooded by water is very important for a vehicle owner.
If your car is not attended to appropriately after drinking up water, the consequences of its performance might be severe.
What Happens if Water Gets in Your Engine?
If water gets in your engine;
1. It will Cause Pollution
Imagine diluting your petrol, fuel, or lubricating oil with a lot of water before pouring it into your car. See how silly it is? You need no soothsayer to tell you that your car will cough blood (figuratively) if you do that.
Once water gets into the engine of your car, it mixes itself with the oil required to make your car run efficiently and this will have terrible effects on your car.
Once your car oil or fuel is diluted, it won’t do the necessary job such as lubricating the parts that are always running together and in motion, and if your car isn’t lubricated properly, friction will occur betwixt parts and lead to dangerous situations.
2. The Water Can Cause Hydro-locking
When water infiltrates the engine of your car and stays there for a long, it invariably gets into the engine cylinders, and in response, the engine of your vehicle begins to fail.
This is called hydro-locking. Trust me, you don’t want anything that can cause the check engine light warning to appear on your dashboard.
The engine cylinders are a crucial part of your vehicle as they allow pistons to compress a mixture of air and fuel to optimize fuel combustion.
Sometimes, the cylinders can misinterpret this mixture of air and fuel for the water that gets into it, and while the mixture is very easy to compress, water isn’t, and this creates a whole world of trouble that eventually leads to hydro-locking; your engine failing.
3. The Water Can Cause Rusts in Engine
As water continues to get into and stay in your engine for long periods, different parts of the engine start to rust. The more water infiltrates the engine, the faster it rusts, and when crucial parts of your engine rust, it causes a huge problem for your vehicle.
This is because rusts will lead to cracks, cracks will lead to holes, cracks and holes will lead to leakages, and leakages will eventually lead to total failure of the engine.
4. The Water can Cause Electrical Problems in the Car
Have you ever seen where water touches an exposed electric live wire? What happened? Sparks here and there, right? And what is usually associated with sparks in the house? Blackouts, right? This is the same thing that happens with the car.
When water gets into the engine and touches several electric parts of the engine, like the fuse box and car circuits.
Even when the engine doesn’t spark somehow, when water enters the caps that distribute electricity to the plugs, it will make the caps handicapped and stop it from passing electricity. And if electricity doesn’t get to the spark plugs, your car won’t start.
How Long Does it Take for Water to Ruin an Engine?
This largely depends on the amount of water that gets into your engine, it can take a whole day or even a week before your engine starts to act up, or it can take just ten seconds.
If you drive into a water body, like a river, and your car stays underwater for a couple of hours, there is no question about the fact that your engine will get damaged and will need a thorough overhaul by an expert mechanic.
However, if you simply drive through a large chunk of water, you might not be at the same risk.
One rule to know how long it takes for your engine to be ruined by water is this; the longer water resides in your engine, the swifter your engine gets ruined.
The more water that got into your engine, the higher your engine’s chances of getting ruined sooner than later. This is why the best thing to do once your engine has been exposed to water is to do the appropriate treatment/repairs instantly.
Can a Water Damaged Engine be Fixed?
Yes, a water-damaged engine can be fixed by a professional mechanic. Don’t try to fix it yourself or “dry it out for a few days,” as some drivers do.
The minute your vehicle starts acting up and you suspect the reason to be because of the water that found its way into your engine, see an experienced mechanic as soon as possible. The sooner a mechanic checks your engine, the better for it.
How to Prevent Water from Entering your Engine
There are a couple of ways to prevent water from entering the engine of your car. Here are some of the suggested ways of prevention.
- As much as you can, stay away from flooded areas. Don’t drive through water that has been stagnant for so long because there are chances the pothole underneath is deeper than you are anticipating.
- When you have to pass through a flooded area, ensure that you keep the acceleration as high as possible and put your car in the first gear, so that instead of drinking up water, it splashes it across the sides of the road.
- Drive where you can see the road. There are higher parts of a flooded road. Drive through there instead. Also, ensure you do this when you are parking your car in a flooded garage. Park somewhere higher, where the flood is unlikely to get to.
- Ensure your windows are pulled up properly, especially when you are going to park your car.
- If you can, avoid parking your car outdoors overnight.
There are two major things you should be careful of when and after driving through the water. The first is to drive carefully so water doesn’t enter your exhaust pipe. Also, you should not allow water to enter your gas cap. Ensure that it is tightened.
As a car owner, you want to protect your car, so you mustn’t feed it what it doesn’t want to eat. Do your very best to ensure that water doesn’t get into the car.
- Don’t drive where the roads are flooded
- Don’t park outside overnight, especially in the rainy season, and
- Keep your car away from water bodies.
When you suspect that water has gotten into your car, see the mechanic as fast as possible.