Dear Tom and Ray:
I was just in a flood, and my Honda Del Sol got flooded up to the hood latch. It was not running then, and I have not tried to turn it on since then. It was in the water for about six hours. Will my engine be ruined? Will my computer be ruined? If the answer to both of those is no, would my car be fine at that point, or do I have to worry that it is going to rust and fall apart slowly? – Diane
RAY: Give it a big, wet kiss, Diane. A goodbye kiss.
TOM: Your engine’s not ruined, and neither is your transmission, most likely. But the rest of the car is toast. Or, more accurately, compost.
RAY: The computer is cooked. The interior of the car is going to rot. And even if you did get the thing to run again, the smell would kill you.
TOM: If you have insurance, this is an excellent time to call your agent and ask him or her to send the appraiser by for a little look-see. He or she will confirm that the car is a total loss, and will write you a check for two-thirds of the value of the car. Then you can fight with them to get the rest of your money.
RAY: If you don’t have insurance, you can still get some money by selling the car to a junkyard (oops, I mean auto recycling center), which can resell the engine and transmission. But DO NOT TRY TO START THE CAR. There’s probably water inside the cylinders, and if you try to start it up, you’ll bend all kinds of important internal engine parts and make the engine worthless.
TOM: The safest thing to do is to get the water out of there, just to make sure no one else wrecks the engine by trying to crank it. To do that, remove all four spark plugs, then crank the engine for a few seconds. Water will shoot out of the spark-plug holes. Then call the junk man, make a deal and move on, Diane. Good luck.
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Tom and Ray offer a strategy for everyone who’s shopping for a car. Find yours in their pamphlet “Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475.
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Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk Web site at www.cartalk.com.
(c) 2007 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi
and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features