Friend's car caught in flood ?

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dm200
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Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:11 am

During the recent downpour and flash flood warnings, a friend of ours was caught in rapidly rising water at an intersection. His car (late 90's Camry) stalled and the water rose up to mid door level. When the water drained, the car would not start and the security system locked things up. His repair shop (car towed there) says that the floorboard area, etc, is very wet and that because of the wetness/water, there is current running through this wetness/water.

They told him that it might be possible that if the car dries out over the next week or so, it might be ok. Then again, it is possible that this older electrical system in the car is permanently messed up. The repair shop did not have an opinion, or even a guess, what the probabilities are. He can get along for a while without this car - but any thoughts or ideas about what to do, or not do? because of the age and value of the car, he does not have collision or comprehensive insurance.

Ideas?

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:21 am

Sounds like his only option is to wait and see, hoping that it didn't get into the engine or transmission and if not sell the car for scrap. I wouldn't hold my breath though and he should probably at least disconnect the battery and park it in a sunny location?

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by delamer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:25 am

Buy a new-to-him car.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:25 am

He can call the insurance company for advice. He can donate the car to charity.
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by 123 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:31 am

Disconnect the battery while waiting for things to dry out.
Use a wet vacuum to draw out excessive moisture.
Open the windows/trunk/hood to let the vehicle dry out.
Protect the car from additional moisture by keeping it in a protected area like a garage.

In a week reconnect the battery and see if it starts/runs.

Alternatively the car interior could be filled with rice or cat litter to draw the moisture out faster but that might create more problems than it solves.
If the car was in generally clear water the friend might get lucky.

Depending on the vehicle it could be helpful to remove seats and carpets to promote drying but that could be a lot of work without any payback if it turns out the vehicle wiring and electronics aren't functional after drying out.
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:31 am

barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:21 am
Sounds like his only option is to wait and see, hoping that it didn't get into the engine or transmission and if not sell the car for scrap. I wouldn't hold my breath though and he should probably at least disconnect the battery and park it in a sunny location?
Yes - too bad, though. We (and he) shall see. I suspect that the odds of possible "success" may be better with an older Camry than some other types.
If the car was in generally clear water the friend might get lucky.
Yes - "luck" may be the determining factor.

The best news for him is that his life was not seriously in danger. He could have walked through the hip deep water- if necessary. In such situations, folks can die.

The repair shop (I use them as well) is quite honest.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by tim1999 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:35 am

I’m no mechanic, but I suspect if the water truly was at mid-door level, including the engine compartment, this car is history and not worth trying to fix.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by MathWizard » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:37 am

For me, I would definitely ditch the car, but I have money now.

If this is not an option for your friend, make sure the transmission, engine oil are completely drained and probably flushed, along
with any other parts that do not have sealed bearings I'd also flush brake lines just in case.

Electrical connections to lights can also corrode and go bad months later.

My guess is that it is not worth putting much money into the car, and putting any money toward a different car.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:44 am

The good news is that the car's ecu for late 90's Camrys is likely behind the glove box, not under the passenger seat like in a lot of cars.

We have a facility near us who reconditions flood damaged cars. They remove and replace the carpet, then take apart anything electrical that was potentially touched by water. Connectors are all un-pinned and either cleaned or re-pinned. They replace all electrical units, although you could pull them apart and wash them with a good PC board cleaner.

Just letting the car air out isn't going to do it. It's very likely the car is done for. All the above work is time and labor intensive. It's worth it for a 1 year old $45k Lexus. For a run of the mill 20 year old Toyota......not so much.
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Kenkat » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:45 am

If it was running and pulled water into the intake, there’s a good chance it is toast. He could try draining the oil, remove the spark plugs and crank the engine a few times without starting to clear water. Then replace with new oil and filter. Shop vac out any interior water and let dry for awhile. It could be a lost cause though.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:49 am

We shall see!

Should have the "final answer" by the end of the month.

I am not a betting person - but my hunch is that the car will run again for not a high cost.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by btenny » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:50 am

The car has been flooded and should be totaled. It will probably never run and work right again. He should call his insurance company and get them involved. They will total the car and give him replacement value.

Good Luck.

PS. A similar thing happened to my son. His car was parked near his lake condo and the wash next to the house flooded. His insurance company totaled the car and gave his replacement cost for the car. He got a great price.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by smackboy1 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:54 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:11 am
During the recent downpour and flash flood warnings, a friend of ours was caught in rapidly rising water at an intersection. His car (late 90's Camry) stalled and the water rose up to mid door level. When the water drained, the car would not start and the security system locked things up. His repair shop (car towed there) says that the floorboard area, etc, is very wet and that because of the wetness/water, there is current running through this wetness/water.

. . . because of the age and value of the car, he does not have collision or comprehensive insurance.
I have had this happen before. At this point the car is a total loss and only has salvage value. A 20 year old car is not worth repairing. Water and silt got everywhere and maybe even into the engine, possibly hydrolocking the cylinders. Most of the damage is unseen. Even if the car dries out literally everything would have to be replaced. Electronics are damaged; metal, wires, fabric, will corrode; mold will take hold; the smell will be unbearable; etc..

If the car had comprehensive the insurance company would just cut a check and tow the car away.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:10 pm

It probably is not worthwhile but you can rent industrial dehumidifiers at places like big box hardware stores and they might help the car dry out before the carpets and seats mildew. I have used those when I had a water leak in my unfinished basement.

Even if the car runs after it drys out I don't know that I would trust it to be safe to drive since things like the airbags or seat belt retractor locks might not work in an emergency.

If he by any chance has tires that are pretty new he might look for a replacement car that has the same size tires so he can use those tires on the replacement car.

When looking for a replacement car I would also be very careful that he is not buying some other car that had flood damage

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:19 pm

I am adding this kind of "risk" to my reasons for keeping comprehensive coverage a bit longer. :oops:

While a few cars in the area suffered flood damage, it was not so widespread that there will be a lot of such cars on the market here,

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:21 pm

btenny wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:50 am
The car has been flooded and should be totaled. It will probably never run and work right again. He should call his insurance company and get them involved. They will total the car and give him replacement value.

Good Luck.

PS. A similar thing happened to my son. His car was parked near his lake condo and the wash next to the house flooded. His insurance company totaled the car and gave his replacement cost for the car. He got a great price.
Not without comprehensive coverage they wont.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:24 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:21 pm
btenny wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:50 am
The car has been flooded and should be totaled. It will probably never run and work right again. He should call his insurance company and get them involved. They will total the car and give him replacement value.
Good Luck.
PS. A similar thing happened to my son. His car was parked near his lake condo and the wash next to the house flooded. His insurance company totaled the car and gave his replacement cost for the car. He got a great price.
Not without comprehensive coverage they wont.
Right! He does not have comprehensive coverage on this car..

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by retire2022 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:29 pm

tim1999 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:35 am
I’m no mechanic, but I suspect if the water truly was at mid-door level, including the engine compartment, this car is history and not worth trying to fix.
+1

Op I concur with tim

300 cars during Hurricane Sandy were turned into floating boats Lower Eastside of Manhattan most of them in NYS were considered only good as spare parts and no longer functioning autos.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:37 pm

I once found out my car could float (for awhile) in a flash flood about two decades back. After getting things dried out, I was able to get it going again but for the rest of it's life, I was always battling the damage the water caused. Wire terminals would corrode and have to be replaced, etc. It wasn't all at once but a continual drip drip kind of repair. The fortunate thing was that two decades ago, cars didn't have nearly the electronics or wire connections that cars have these days. I'm guessing the smart thing would be to get rid of the car and start over with another.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by elcadarj » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:48 pm

retire2022 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:29 pm
tim1999 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:35 am
I’m no mechanic, but I suspect if the water truly was at mid-door level, including the engine compartment, this car is history and not worth trying to fix.
+1

Op I concur with tim

300 cars during Hurricane Sandy were turned into floating boats Lower Eastside of Manhattan most of them in NYS were considered only good as spare parts and no longer functioning autos.
+1 more. Had experience with this, the water will have penetrated into every bearing of every rotating piece of equipment under the hood. A/C compressor, power steering pump, etc. All will likely fail prematurely. Ours did.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Clark & Addison » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:12 pm

We had a similar situation a couple winters ago (wife slid off ice covered road into ditch full of water). We still had comprehension coverage on our car so our decision was easy to have it totalled. I talked with our mechanic that I trust and he said they could probably get it running again, but couldn't guarantee how much it would cost to do so. He also thought that we could have other issues down the road with the vehicle and we would probably spend more money than the vehicle was worth chasing issues over the years. He said he did the same thing with an older car that one of his sons drove but it was never the same as before it was flooded. My suggestion is to scrap the vehicle and find newer used vehicle to replace it with if needed.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:20 pm

Well, the good news at least is your friend wasn't driving a shiny, new 2019 vehicle. That would have been bad.

In the grand scheme of things, his loss wasn't that much, especially considering he came to no harm. That's not to say his financial loss isn't painful. Just overall a good thing your friend is safe.

There are probably lots of Bogleheads that might be able to offer up their old Camry at a good price, to help a fellow traveler!

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by alfaspider » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:25 pm

Even if the car runs again, I wouldn't trust it again. Any electrical components will start corroding unless they were thoroughly dried almost immediately (essentially impossible because of where the wiring is). The car may seem to work ok after it dries out, but then quickly start developing weird quirks that come and go and get worse with time.

If your friend had comprehensive insurance, there would be nearly a 100% chance the insurance company would total it out. The only flood car I would consider would be a classic that has been completely restored since the flooding (including all new wiring).

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:26 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:20 pm
Well, the good news at least is your friend wasn't driving a shiny, new 2019 vehicle. That would have been bad.

In the grand scheme of things, his loss wasn't that much, especially considering he came to no harm. That's not to say his financial loss isn't painful. Just overall a good thing your friend is safe.

There are probably lots of Bogleheads that might be able to offer up their old Camry at a good price, to help a fellow traveler!

Broken Man 1999
BUT - the 2019 Model would have carried Comprehensive Insurance.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:12 pm

tim1999 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:35 am
I’m no mechanic, but I suspect if the water truly was at mid-door level, including the engine compartment, this car is history and not worth trying to fix.
+1 especially a car that is over 20/25 years old

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:27 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:11 am
During the recent downpour and flash flood warnings, a friend of ours was caught in rapidly rising water at an intersection. His car (late 90's Camry) stalled and the water rose up to mid door level. When the water drained, the car would not start and the security system locked things up. His repair shop (car towed there) says that the floorboard area, etc, is very wet and that because of the wetness/water, there is current running through this wetness/water.

They told him that it might be possible that if the car dries out over the next week or so, it might be ok. Then again, it is possible that this older electrical system in the car is permanently messed up. The repair shop did not have an opinion, or even a guess, what the probabilities are. He can get along for a while without this car - but any thoughts or ideas about what to do, or not do? because of the age and value of the car, he does not have collision or comprehensive insurance.

Ideas?
I'd take the insurance money and move on. Since it's a late 90s Camry, there probably isn't much. I certainly wouldn't spend thousands trying to repair. What's the thing worth, $2k?
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:44 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:27 pm
I'd take the insurance money and move on. Since it's a late 90s Camry, there probably isn't much. I certainly wouldn't spend thousands trying to repair. What's the thing worth, $2k?
There is no insurance money. The OP said liability only.
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by psteinx » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:54 pm

Unless this car dries out and starts on its own (unlikely, IMO), it seems quite unlikely that repairs will be worthwhile. Starting value of the vehicle (if working), quite low. Salvage value (if scrapped), probably non-zero. So the spread between what if would be worth, if it was restored to pre-crash value, and what it's worth, as scrap, is likely not high.

Add to that the fact that even if it IS induced to work, it will likely be extra-unreliable going forward (per other posters in this thread and perhaps a bit of common sense), and it seems OP's friend should prepare for a different vehicle. If friend is seriously inconvenienced by being carless for a week or three, and has at least some financial means, it's probably better to just go ahead and get a new(er) car now, then sell the old one for scrap/salvage/beater value after it's dry.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by evblazer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:07 pm

The car stalled which could mean the engine took a big sip of water through the air intake and the water could be mixed with a lot of fluids it shouldn’t be and sitting in a lot of places that won’t dry out.

I see a lot of Jeep/truck owners locally wreck their engine playing in the water with or without a snorkel. Either water finds a way in or they go too deep and engine is shot.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by fru-gal » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:25 pm

If he follows the advice to donate it, he should stay away from CarEasy also known as CARS (Charitable Adult Rides and Services). I thought they were okay because they have a BBB A+ rating, but they take 30% of the net profit for themselves from the car sale. They auctioned off my classic car, netted (note net, not gross) $4500 and the charity only got $3000. They do not disclose this in advance.

If I were him, given the condition of this car, I'd take it to a scrap dealer instead of donate it, He can always donate whatever he gets for the car.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by retire2022 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:28 pm

Op what is one’s life worth driving an unsafe vehicle? Being frugal is a good thing risking one’s life is not.

If water damaged safety systems and is needed like the air bag, then it is certain another car is worth investing in.
Last edited by retire2022 on Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:30 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:26 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:20 pm
Well, the good news at least is your friend wasn't driving a shiny, new 2019 vehicle. That would have been bad.

In the grand scheme of things, his loss wasn't that much, especially considering he came to no harm. That's not to say his financial loss isn't painful. Just overall a good thing your friend is safe.

There are probably lots of Bogleheads that might be able to offer up their old Camry at a good price, to help a fellow traveler!

Broken Man 1999
BUT - the 2019 Model would have carried Comprehensive Insurance.
The money he saved not paying comprehensive or collision is probably more than the car was worth before it was damaged. Personally I wouldn’t fool around with a 20 year old car with water damage. At the minimum it will smell funny going forward.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by jbmitt » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:43 pm

It needs to get dried out. When I worked for an insurance company, many cars were not totaled if they were properly dried and had fresh water up to the doors and only submerged to the floor. For fresh water, it had to be above the dash for it to automatically total. It could still total based on overall damages, economic reasons, or damage that couldn't be fixed/replaced. With modern cars having more electronics, the threshold is more total cost vs. value.

Only salt water or dark water - sewage etc above the floor was an automatic total loss.

If it was me, I wouldn't spend too much money on drying it and trying to fix it. They're never right again. Put the money towards finding a new car.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:23 pm

evblazer wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:07 pm
The car stalled which could mean the engine took a big sip of water through the air intake and the water could be mixed with a lot of fluids it shouldn’t be and sitting in a lot of places that won’t dry out.

I see a lot of Jeep/truck owners locally wreck their engine playing in the water with or without a snorkel. Either water finds a way in or they go too deep and engine is shot.
Hmmmm....sounds like an experience I had a crossing a river recently....Is it bad if a wave comes over the hood of a big SUV? :) Doesn't seem to have caused any problems, but I wasn't in there long!
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Smoke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:00 pm

Sometimes bad things happen to good cars... I wouldn't hold too much hope. But then the car isn't exactly new, there is that.
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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by Retrograde » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:57 am

He should scrap the car and find another vehicle. The water is going to cause be a cause of a lot of electrical problems over years, even if he can get it running again.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by evblazer » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:17 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:23 pm
evblazer wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:07 pm
The car stalled which could mean the engine took a big sip of water through the air intake and the water could be mixed with a lot of fluids it shouldn’t be and sitting in a lot of places that won’t dry out.

I see a lot of Jeep/truck owners locally wreck their engine playing in the water with or without a snorkel. Either water finds a way in or they go too deep and engine is shot.
Hmmmm....sounds like an experience I had a crossing a river recently....Is it bad if a wave comes over the hood of a big SUV? :) Doesn't seem to have caused any problems, but I wasn't in there long!
It’s usually the folks intentionally playing out there in a river who hit a deep spot or are in the ocean and get stuck. Probably cost more to fix than an old car would cost to replace.
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Last edited by evblazer on Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by alfaspider » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:56 am

fru-gal wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:25 pm
If he follows the advice to donate it, he should stay away from CarEasy also known as CARS (Charitable Adult Rides and Services). I thought they were okay because they have a BBB A+ rating, but they take 30% of the net profit for themselves from the car sale. They auctioned off my classic car, netted (note net, not gross) $4500 and the charity only got $3000. They do not disclose this in advance.

If I were him, given the condition of this car, I'd take it to a scrap dealer instead of donate it, He can always donate whatever he gets for the car.
Just about all of the charities that take donated cars are sending them straight to auction. Charities don't have the resources to use and maintain questionable donated cars. There was a reform some years ago that prevented people from just declaring a value on a donated car and taking a deduction based on it. After that reform, the tax benefit was pretty marginal. With the new tax law, most people wont' be getting much tax benefit at all from donating a car.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by ClevrChico » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:06 pm

Being a 90s Camry, I'd bet it will run when dried out.

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:54 am

ClevrChico wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:06 pm
Being a 90s Camry, I'd bet it will run when dried out.
We all shall see :)

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by dm200 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:02 pm

The car is "drying out" in front of his house.

The removable floor mats were very wet - and had beginnings of mold - so they went in the trash.

He plans to keep it drying out for a week or so more. We shall see :confused

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by deltaneutral83 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:11 am

This is a $1,500 situation, correct ? Could it be scrapped for $500 making it even less?

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Re: Friend's car caught in flood ?

Post by chevca » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:04 am

It's a 20 year old Camry?! I would call it downright cheap to try to dry out and save this car. Unless this friend has no money and can't afford anything, get a different car.

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