How do you check the oil and other fluids in your car after a flood?

I heard that water can get in and mix with the oil in your car after a flood. How can I check if water got in? Where else should I check?

Answer
“I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with flooding, but it is wise of you to check!
You can check the oil the same way you normally would check. Clean off the oil dipstick and then put it back in. Look at the dipstick and see if there are water droplets on it. Water and oil don’t mix so it should be easy to tell. If you do see water droplets, then water has gotten into the engine and you should not start your car.
Starting the car will mix the two liquids and cause damage. You will need to change the oil and filter.
You should also check for water in the:
  • Transmission
  • Gasoline
  • Coolant reservoirs
  • Power steering
  • Clutch
  • Break fluid
You can check your transmission fluid in a similar fashion to the oil. This dipstick lid cover is usually red. If the transmission fluid is pink and thick (think like a strawberry smoothie), then water got into the fluid and you should not drive.
To check if any water got into your gas, very carefully siphon some out from the bottom of the tank (water is heavier than the gasoline and will sink). If you can see two layers of liquid, then there is water in the gas tank and you should not start your car.
Check your car manual to find where to find the other fluids you need to check as with each car the location and container might be different.
Water can get in anywhere when there’s flooding from storms or hurricanes, or even if you drive through a big enough puddle. Water causes severe damage to your car internally, so if your area just had a heavy rainstorm or flooding, it’s a good idea to check the fluids in your car.
If you find water in your car’s fluids, you should not drive it. You will likely need a tow to your nearest mechanic to help you change the fluids. If you’re looking for towing coverage, lockout service, tire change, jumpstarts, key replacement, a mechanic hotline, and more, try a roadside assistance membership through Jerry.”
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Lauren Smith
Answered on Sep 09, 2021
Lauren has written for World Nomads, the Matador Network, Korvia Consulting, and once upon a time Three Fates Games. She graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a BFA in Creative Writing. After graduating, she moved overseas and lived in South Korea where she spent her free time traveling and going on road trips with friends. She misses the rest stop potatoes and is trying to figure out how to recreate them at home. She's now based outside of Chicago and when she's not writing she spends her free time reading, playing video games, and exploring whenever she can.
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