3 Vehicle Systems That Could Be Ruined By Driving Through a Flooded Roadway

Posted on: 4 January 2017


You've heeded the warnings countless times—do not drive through a flooded road. At any moment, flood water can sweep your vehicle away. Ask any one of your friends, family members, and employees if they've ever driven through several inches of water, and they would likely say they have and that nothing happened. But ask a follow-up question regarding their vehicle's problems since the flood, and they may change their tune. Here's why. 


Fuel powers an engine when the fuel is compressed and ignited by a spark from the spark plug. If water gets into the engine and mixes with the fuel, the fuel will not combust. Water in the fuel will get into the cylinders, and that is where the compression occurs. Should this happen, the water could cause the cylinders to become inoperable, and this will cause them to hydrolock. From a driver's perspective, it may seem like the vehicle has stalled, and the driver may try to start the engine again. However, continuing to try to get the engine to turn over when the cylinders are locked will cause the block to crack. This means the engine will need to be replaced or rebuilt. 


A vehicle's transmission is hot when it's being driven. A sudden submersion or large splash from much cooler water in a flooded roadway can damage the transmission. If water gets into vents and filters, it can get inside the transmission and affect the transmission fluid. This would essentially dilute the transmission fluid and make it ineffective over time. The transmission may get extremely hot to the point of complete failure, or it could slip occasionally. This could reduce the gas mileage. 


When your transmission doesn't work properly, it can damage other components of your driveline, including your differentials and your transfer case. These are parts that turn your wheels with the regulated power they get from the transmission. If there were any previous leaks, holes, or cracks in any of these components, water from the flood could seep in and slowly damage these important components. If a differential or a transfer case goes out while you are driving, the vehicle wheels may lock up. 

In conclusion, instruct your employees to never drive through a flooded roadway. If, however, they find themselves in a situation where they have no choice, instruct them to return to your facility as soon as possible so the vehicle can be parked and so maintenance personnel can assess whether there is any damage before matters get worse.