Why it's not a good idea to drive through flooded streets

Poster image (13).jpg
Posted at 1:27 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 13:39:04-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Tidal flooding in the Hampton Roads area has caused concern from residents on the impact of the vehicles.

News 3 spoke with a mechanic Monday about how much it could end up costing if one drives through flooded streets. Our area expects another round of moderate to major level tidal flooding near our afternoon/evening high tide, meaning roads could become rivers over the next couple of days. One mistake could end up costing drivers a lot of money.

Driving through high water could potentially total your vehicle.

Willie Martin, the owner of Martin's Auto repair, says these cars driving through high water will likely stall out.

"If you don't keep your foot on the accelerator and it starts to hesitate you're dead in the water. It doesn't take much. Once it can't breathe, your exhaust lets your car breathe, and if waters going up the exhaust it can't breathe and it's going to cut off," Martin told News 3.

The mechanic says if your car sits in water for too long it will short circuit your electrical wiring, which runs through the floor of the car.

That means your lights, windows, air conditioning, locks, and many other parts of a vehicle will stop working. And even if the issue can be temporarily fixed, which will cost thousands, Martin says the water damage will linger. He says most insurance companies think you're better off getting a new car.

Driving through flooded streets can also hurt your engine. This could also total your car.

“If you go through high water, it sucks the water up your tailpipe, that goes to your engine, and that will kill the compression, you'll have no power, and it won't start,” he said.

Martin tells us the best way to know if you should drive through water is by your tire. If the water on the road is halfway up the tire, then it's time to turn around.

Kyle Loftus agrees, saying it's especially important to watch out for your muffler.

"The reference point on a vehicle is going to be the muffler," said Loftus. "You never want to be in water that is higher than the muffler on the car. If we are, this can allow water to get through the exhaust system, back into our motor, locking up the motor. And as we all know, the heart of your vehicle is the motor."

Three local cities are offering free parking garages and taking flood mitigation measures to ensure your vehicle does not end up totaled.