Can driving a car through low floodwater wreck the engine?

I drove my Alfa Romeo through a floodwater, which was lower than the sill, at lowish speed. How likely is it that this could've wrecked the engine? The car is heading for write off subject to the insurer agreeing. Any chance the local council is liable or might contribute £1200 towards a reconditioned engine, plus £600 refit costs?

Asked on 23 September 2017 by Vincent Rafferty

Answered by Honest John
The problem with a diesel engine is always the air scoop which, for efficiency, in a car, is usually set fairly low to the ground. Once that sucks up floodwater, the engine suffers 'hydraulic lock'. It cannot compress the water in its combustion chamber, so something has to break, usually the conrods. Unless a diesel engine is fitted with a bonnet-top engine air intake or a snorkel (not to be confused with the intercooler intake), then it should never be driven through floodwater. I can't see how the local council can be held liable.
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