What to do if a car engine flooded with water won’t start?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘What to do if a car engine flooded with water won’t start?’, and cover topics like immediate steps to take in case of flooding, problems caused by flooding in the car, and a step-by-step guide to tackle a flooded car.

What to do if a car engine flooded with water won’t start?

The following steps need to be taken in order to fix a water-flooded car engine not starting:

  • Firstly, the oil dipstick meter needs to be checked for any signs of water contamination
  • We now need to release the water by loosening the drain plug
  • Next, we need to remove the spark plugs
  • A change of oil filter and oil is needed
  • With all the plugs and cables out, the engine needs to be cranked to get rid of all the water
  • In case of any leftover water, spray some oil into the engine cylinders and crank the engine again
  • The spark plugs need to be replaced and the engine should be restarted after installing the same
  • In case the engine starts, it should be allowed to run for a while before shutting it down and performing another oil check
  • The oil and oil filter need to be changed again if the oil has a cloudy or milky texture
  • Before cranking the engine, it must be made sure that no water is left inside the gas tank, or else it can cause major issues if it gets pumped into the fuel system

Immediate steps to take in case of flooding

These are the immediate steps to be taken in case of a flooded car engine does not start and can be treated as first aid for the car.

The car must not be restarted

Flooding causes water to enter every nook and cranny of a car. Starting the car in such a condition can damage critical components and must be avoided at all costs until the water has been drained.

Drain the water immediately

The faster we remove water from the car, the better the chances of saving it. The mechanical and electrical components are the ones that are prone to suffering damage first.

Any puddle formation inside the car should be taken care of immediately. The water can be drained either by swabbing towels or by using a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner should not be a regular one as that can cause electrocution.


The next important step is to dry the damp car after all the water has been drained. All doors and windows should be opened and the car must be parked in the open and sunlight should be allowed to enter as much as possible.

Drying systems such as standing fans or electric tables can be used to quickly dry up the car. This will also help to eradicate any bad odor and restrict the formation of mold in the car. A portable heater can also be used if there has been minimal flooding.

Problems caused by flooding in the car


This is the worst thing that can happen to the engine after flooding has occurred. This is indicative of water entering the engine through the intake manifold and entering the engine cylinder. This causes severe damage to the cylinders and pistons. If the car is started in this condition, it may be totaled.


After flooding has occurred, there is a high chance of rusting to occur as the car is primarily made up of metal, and metal does not bode well with water.

Hence, the water after it has been drained, these metal parts need to be dried thoroughly, especially the ones that were exposed to it. Repainting is also a good way of saving these surfaces.

Electrical problems

Electrical components unless completely dried out, must not be touched or operated on as they are the first components to get affected by the flooding.

Components such as radio, lights, electric mirrors, and the entire infotainment system are examples of some components that are easily affected by water. A professional electrician should be consulted for their respective fixes.

Mechanical moving parts

Mechanical components like the accelerator, brake, and clutch are also damaged very easily in case of flooding. Water finds its way inside these components as they have open spaces between them. A professional technician must be consulted to prevent further damage.

A step-by-step guide to tackling a flooded car 

These are the following steps that need to be followed to tackle a flooded car and restore normalcy as soon as possible.

  • Starting the car can cause irreversible damage to all the components and should be strictly avoided
  • Water damage should be checked as soon as it is safe to do so, as insurance will not be provided if water is at the dashboard level
  • The car should be dried well after all the water has been drained, standing fans or pure sunlight can be used as well
  • To prevent bad odor, components like floormats and other upholstery should be cleaned and washed thoroughly to prevent mold formation
  • The engine oil tank needs to be checked and drained out if there is any presence of water inside it
  • After all the checking has been done, it is important to visit the insurance company for repairs and further costs to be covered

Research shows certain addons that can be used to strengthen a car insurance policy in case of flooding and other related damage.


This blog post addressed the question, ‘What to do if a car engine flooded with water won’t start?’.

We understood the immediate course of action in case of a flooded car engine not starting to prevent any further damage and the various problems that arise as a result of a flooded car. Furthermore, a step-by-step guide has been provided to tackle a flooded car situation. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What to do if a car engine flooded with water won’t start?

Will a flooded engine fix itself?

A flooded engine cannot fix itself and it is we only who can restore the air-fuel balance inside the car engine.

How do you unflood an engine with water?

Firstly, the spark plugs need to be removed along with the ignition coils to drain out the water from the engine cylinders and the exhaust. The engine can be cranked gently to ensure no water is left over, a touch of oil can also be used to do the same.

Can a flooded car be saved?

A flooded car can be saved depending on the amount of water damage done. However, it is important to note that if the car is flooded with saltwater, it is not worth conducting any sort of repairs as salt water is corrosive in nature and is hazardous for all car components and its interior features.