What Happens if Water Gets in Your Engine?

What Happens if Water Gets in Your Engine?

What Happens if Water Gets in Your Engine?

Nobody needs to be an expert on automobiles to realize that water has no place in an engine. Electricity, fire, and water don’t typically combine nicely. Sadly, water does get into engines, particularly in vehicles whose owners reside in flood-prone locations.

Your engine may hydrolock if water gets inside of it, and this will finally result in failure. Additionally, water in the engine might result in the contamination of transmission, oil, or gasoline as well as electrical issues or rust. These possible issues can lead to engine breakdowns and are quite harmful.

I’ll go into more detail about how each can lead to disaster below, along with what you should do to prevent engine damage if water gets into your motor.

Why Water in The Engine causes Hydrolocking

When water enters the cylinders, hydrolocking occurs, which leads to engine failure.

Fuel is burned by car engines to produce the horsepower needed to move the vehicle forward. Pistons compress an air-fuel combination inside the cylinders to improve fuel combustion.

Since most of the mixture of air and fuel is gaseous, pistons can easily compress it. Water, on the other hand, provides a strong compression resistance.

If water enters the cylinder, the piston will still be turned by the crankshaft but will encounter water rather than an air-fuel mixture. To reduce energy waste, manufacturers cram the pistons closely into the cylinders.

Therefore, there will be nowhere for the compressed water to travel. But the energy needs to go somewhere.

Hopefully, the engine will stall and come to a stop. In the unfortunate event, pieces of the combustion chamber can start flinging off.

Strong engines can bend or break connecting rods, which might cause your engine to develop holes.

Through the air intake of the car, water enters the cylinders. It might occur if you drive across a piece of flooded road or if you awaken to find a river has replaced your front street.

Therefore, avoid driving through a portion that is flooded if you are unclear about the level of your air intake. A small amount of water in your engine’s cylinders is all it takes to cause a hydrolock.

After a protracted and expensive overhaul, a hydrolocked engine may start running again. Start saving money for a new engine or vehicle if the compression in your engine blasted holes in it.

Oil, Petrol, or Transmission Fluids Can Be Contaminated by Water

Your engine’s seals may fail, especially if the vehicle is submerged in water for a prolonged period of time.

If tainted oil is polluted with water, it won’t efficiently cool or lubricate the car’s moving parts. An engine with polluted oil will harm some engine components, even if you don’t immediately detect it.

Check the oil dipstick on your car before starting it. Your oil has to be drained and replaced if you see water droplets at the end. Remove the oil pan and wash any possible muck that has gathered to be safe.

Parts of your transmission might also be ruined by contaminated transmission fluid. Have the fluid emptied and refilled if you notice water on the transmission’s dipstick.

It’s uncommon to discover an automobile from the last few decades with fuel contamination from flooding. However, you should check if your car was underwater for a long period of time.

Simply empty the tank of fuel and look for water stains. Replace the fuel filter and get the tank cleaned if you discover any.

Water Could Result in Electrical Failures

Flooding can seriously harm your engine’s electrical system because water and electricity don’t typically mix well. Car circuits must have bare leads to be water-tight.

Spark plugs won’t get power if the distributor caps are waterlogged. Additionally, water might stop electricity from getting to the spark plugs.

The fuse box in the engine is highly prone to flooding. Fuses control the currents sent to various motor components.

Fuse damage from water can cause havoc inside your engine. When your fuse box becomes contaminated with water, it will be easy to determine since numerous engine functions will start to fail.

An Engine Can Rust if There Is Too Much Water in It

The components of your engine will probably start to corrode if water gets inside. The results of rusting change depending on where water collects.

For instance, if you don’t drain the water from your gasoline tank, rust will cause a hole to form in the fuel system.

The issue can arise sooner if your car becomes flooded with salt water.

Actions to Take if Water Gets Into Your Engine

The worst issue that can result from water in your engine is hydrolocking. Your engine and other systems could sustain permanent harm if they are not immediately repaired. As a result, you must be prepared to act if your engine floods with water.

If you think the water level is too high to drive through, do not do so. However, if an unlucky accident caused water to enter your engine, follow these instructions:

Try to get out of the water, then see if your car stalls as soon as you emerge.

If it does, your engine is hydrolocked. To get off the side of the road, you will require a tow truck.

Find a spot to park and let the temperature of the engine dry the vehicle if you manage to get out of the water, but the automobile hesitates before you pass.

Make sure the brakes are still functional.

Check whether there is any water contamination in the oil, transmission fluid, or gasoline after the car has cooled. If so, drain them and replace them.

Never go for long distances without ensuring the water is clean. Refusing to check could lead to more issues.

Check the water level first if you wake up to discover your car flooded.

Most experts advise calling your insurance provider to declare your automobile totaled if the water level is above your dashboard. It probably indicates that your engine is completely flooded.

Such damage demands extensive effort and costly resources to repair. It’s possible that the water level you see is not the highest that can be achieved. Wherever the dirty water was concentrated, a stain would be left.

If you are certain that water did not enter the cylinders, check to see if the water has tainted the oil, transmission fluid, or gasoline before starting the engine.

Disconnect the battery first, then check the dipsticks for the gearbox and oil. Drain the oil and transmission fluid and replace them with new fluids if they have water in them.

Drain the fuel tank, look for signs of water, and have a professional wash the fuel tank.

I advise you to speak with a specialist in the event of flooding before starting the car. The next step is to inspect the electronics, which may require starting the engine.

The engine is ruined if the cylinders contain water. Therefore, visit a mechanic or insurance assessor before moving further, and while you’re waiting, dry up any water that has gotten into your automobile. Rusting and the development of mold can both be brought on by water.

To completely remove all the water, use vacuum cleaners. Open the doors and allow the car to aerate and dry once you are certain you have removed all of the water. Be alert for any moisture you overlooked.


Your engine sustains serious damage from water. In the worst scenarios, hydrolocking may require an engine replacement. Avoid driving your automobile in water that could get into the air intake as much as you can to prevent rust.

If flooding occurs, start by looking for indications of contaminated transmission fluid, oil, or gasoline, but don’t start the car until your mechanic arrives.