Kerala has witnessed one of the scariest monsoons this year and millions of people living in many parts of the state had to move to relief camps for life leaving behind their homes and vehicles and all that they once dearly possessed. It has been tragic days for almost a month now, with last two weeks being the worst hit period.
Many of the victims are still wondering where to begin and how to begin all over again. So many questions are ringing in the ears of millions of victims all over the state, of which few are about the condition of their beloved vehicles. Every person affected here must be worrying about the vehicle damage as much as they worry about the damage inside their homes.
Automobiles, whichever form it is, if fully or partially submerged in the flood waters could have caused extensive damage invariably resulting in expensive repairs. Some of them might have even turned to resemble scrap material in a few days’ time. It is a depressing state of mind that all of us are going through for the past couple of days. While we all know that the damage has been done, let us now think about how to reverse the damage and get things going.
Service centres all over the state are flooding with vehicles for repair and it is most likely that you too amongst the many others may not receive your vehicle repaired quickly as you would want it. As a matter of fact, it may not be really necessary to even give it for service which most of you are not aware of. A majority of the population now thinks that there are only two options, either dump the vehicle and trash it, or give it to a service centre for a complete repair. Both these could result in huge losses. If you thought the insurance companies would take care of it, again I want to remind you that you are only one among the seven lakh plus people who are waiting to do the same. However, it is an option that need not be overlooked.
I would like to share few tips from my tiny knowledge base that I think could help tackle the situation in a much efficient manner. Now that the waters have started to recede, here is what you could do to take care of your beloved vehicle. It would be better to get the assistance of a local mechanic to get the following things done, if you think you are not ready to handle it alone.
1. Do not try to turn on the engine:
The electrical and mechanical systems may have been affected badly; hence every step needs to be taken carefully. Disconnect the battery wires as the primary step. Please do not try to start the vehicle at any cost to see if the engine is working. Most people make this mistake as you would feel tempted to check if it is still working. Never try to turn on the ignition until all other checks are done, as it would lead to complete damage of the vehicle.
2. Open the doors and windows to dry the interiors: Inside the cabin, the seat and carpets would have all been soaked in water and mud, leaving altogether a foul smell. Hence, open the doors and windows to allow fresh air inside. Pull out all carpets and floor mats off the vehicle and let it out to dry. Use dry towels to absorb remaining moisture present inside the cabin and seat corners. Allow the cabin to dry completely by leaving the doors and windows open for as long as possible.
3. Open the fuse box and relay box and allow it to completely dry out:
Water inside fuse box could result in short circuit when the engine is turned on. Hence, open the fuse cover and leave it to dry completely. Relay box helps in function of headlamps, air conditioner, and so on. Allow this box too to dry off completely for efficient functioning of the car systems.
4. Check the oil dipstick to assess water in the engine and transmission:
Water could enter the engine and transmission seals if the car has been in flood water for a longer time. Check the dipstick for any water droplets that indicate water inside the engine and transmission box. Cylinders could be damaged in case of water seepage through engine and transmission seals.
5. Change the engine oil and transmission fluid before towing:
Even if you are planning to tow the vehicle to a higher ground level for service, the primary step is to ensure there is no water inside the engine before towing. Remove the engine oil first and pour Engine Flush (available at local hardware shops) inside to remove the gunk out of your engine. After that, pour new oil and transmission fluid, like in an oil change during service. Also check for contaminants in other fluids in brake, clutch, power steering and so on.
6. Check the fuel tank for presence of water using a siphon:
Siphon pumps are available in most hardware stores. Buy one and pump out some amount of fuel to check of water is present in the fuel. If you happen to notice water in the fuel, then it is better to empty the tank completely.
7. Replace the Air filter and Spark plugs:
Disconnect the spark plugs and replace them along with the air filter if found necessary. It would be wise to get help from a local mechanic since these terms and activities would be new to the common man.
8. Check for Brake system failure:
After starting the vehicle, check repeatedly to ensure braking is intact. Water seepage into the brake lines could cause brake failures which at times may not be experienced initially while moving the car. Apply gentle brakes quite often to remove any water inside and dry them out. Make sure not to drive long distances as soon as you start the car.
9. Check for rust prone areas:
Check around every nook and corner of the vehicle in and out, to make sure water isn’t lodged that could cause rusty parts in future. Dry out the vehicle completely before gearing up to turn on the ignition.
After all these checks are done, if problem persists, you may then take it to the service centre for further repairs. Majority of the vehicles could recoup with these self-checks itself thereby saving you many bucks.
If you think this article was worth reading and helpful, kindly leave your comments on the comment section below. Also please don’t hesitate to let me know if I have missed to write anything here.
Have you lost all your original documents in the flood waters? Are you wondering about how to start with Insurance claim and other procedures for flood affected vehicles? Please stay tuned for my next article to know all about it.