The looming threat of a dangerous hurricane can be a scary and stressful experience. And while the value of any car pales in importance to the safety of family, friends, and even pets, keeping a classic vehicle high and dry is nevertheless a major concern for most enthusiasts.
For those outside the immediate impact of a storm, avoiding water damage could even be the first priority. And with the potential for massive rainfall throughout much of the southeast, flooding could happen in unexpected places.
We’ve gone over the extensive steps to prepare for flooding and mitigate water damage after a flood. Both of these underline the biggest point about keeping a classic safe: You can never be too far away from water. The best thing to do is transport your car out of flood zone areas to a safe, dry place. But if that’s not an option, or you find you garage suddenly filling with water, here are some things to consider when it comes to water.
Disconnect the battery no matter what
If the battery is hooked up, Hagerty Senior Fleet Manager Tony Pietrangelo says “all your positive connections are going to turn green and get corroded.” That’s true for salt water and fresh water. Salt water is a bigger concern for many reasons, but fresh water can also wreak havoc on electronics. And with newer cars, electrical components might sit low in the car. By removing the potential for electrical flow, you increase the chances that things can dry out without damage.
Get the car as high as you can
“Whenever water is involved, you’ve got to take the parts apart and rebuild them,” Pietrangelo says. The biggest solution to that is to avoid water altogether. So get your car as high as safely possible. Take inspiration from the BMW M3 owner (as documented on Jalopnik) who lifted his car on garden blocks. We said "inspiration" because supporting your car that way is extremely dangerous and best avoided if possible. If the water’s getting high, don’t forget to think about what else in your garage could float, tip, or spill, and cause other problems.
Take a close look after the water recedes
This is especially true with salt water, which causes rust and corrosion that sometimes might not show up for months after the fact. When it comes to flooded areas of a car, “You have to get to them as soon as you can,” Pietrangelo says. With fresh water, anything mechanical can usually be dried out, but getting the moisture removed is crucial. Consider an engine, where a simple oil change to make sure there’s no water in the crankcase could mean the difference between no damage and a full rebuild.
As we’ve mentioned before, time is of the essence when repairing water damage. The sooner, the better. So if disaster strikes and your car gets wet, start the recovery process as soon as possible.