A car drowned in the sea..... - Alex J M
About 11 months ago I parked my car on a busy quayside car park and went off with a couple of mates for some lunch, little did I realise that the highest tide for 80 years was on its way in....

When I returned to the car the sea water was already just short of the top of the wheels, and still rising. I dashed out to the car, jumped in, and drove it off the car park (sea water coming up over the bonnet as I went).

I then went back to watch the carnage, something in region of 20 cars got totally trashed, with water right up to the door handles (fishing boats came in off the quay and smashed the windows and dented panels of those cars which were stranded, and with every surge the cars were picked up and pushed about, banging and scratching each other, Kevin Woodford's Jag was wrecked (so it wasn't all bad)).

When I got my car home I put it through one of those car washes with the powerful under car jets twice, and then garaged it up my in-laws, took all the mats out and cleaned them (there was quite a bit of sand in them), soaked as much water as I could out of the footwells (the carpets were absolutely s**den) and left the car to dry out for a couple of days.

After that, I never really gave it much thought.

However, in the last couple of months a couple of funny things have happened.

First, the petrol cap release cable snapped (obviously this runs from the driver's footwell back through the car to the petrol cap), the dealer said it had "just snapped" and there was no reason for it. It was replaced under warranty.

And then, just before christmas, the boot release cable went as well, the dealer said it had siezed, again, no explanation. At the same time the CD player packed up (it's a multichanger in the boot), the dealer put this down to a loose cable.

These have both also been fixed under warranty.

Now, you can see where I'm going with this, is something horrible happening to my car, out of sight but now starting to manifest itself? Remember, it was caught in sea water that came pretty much to the top of the wheels, and as it was driven out off the car park the wash effect made it deeper (plus a surge came in from the sea as I was driving out). Short of taking the mats out and cleaning them, it was just left to dry naturally in a garage.

Both those cables will, presumably, run under the car, the dealer said he'd never known one of them to snap, and yet both of them have gone on my car within two months. It's still under warranty, but if something terrible happens before the warranty's up they might start to have a proper poke about (I never told them what had happened in case it voided my warranty) - which could be awkward, and I dread to think how much these repairs would cost out of warranty (they have to strip the inside of the car out to replace the cables).

What do you reckon, is this just a coincidence, or is my car's dip in the sea saving up all sorts of expensive problems for me in the months to come?.....
A car drowned in the sea..... - Alex J M
I should just add, there's no visible damage whatsoever. The carpets all dried out nicely and are clean, looking under the car nothing appears to be out of order, there's no rust or corrosion, in short, there are no visible signs whatsoever of what's happened, my concern is that the damage might be similar to those cables, which for some reason have snapped/siezed, did water get into them and rot them from the inside?

Is the same thing happening to other parts or cables or the electrics as I type this?.....
A car drowned in the sea..... - KB.
Your question is, of course, somewhat rhetorical Alex. It's hard to imagine that there isn't further unpleasantness going on, out of sight.

The thing that springs to mind is though........all the people, on this site as well as elsewhere, who speak disparagingly and contemptuously of others who buy brand new vehicles as opposed to used or almost new.

As you've said yourself, you've concealed the facts from the dealer - and I can quite see why - but if you decide the car is now a liability and move it on, then someone else will inherit it.

When my Clio got flooded I, thereafter, felt as though the car had been.....well, sort of violated....as it were, and was slightly relieved when it eventually went, although as it happens, I do know that it's been OK since.

Sorry not top have added anything to your question, but I do get get miffed at the attitude of those who, for whatever reason, don't buy new and castigate those who choose to. "Buy new at discount, sell privately with the car in good condition", has been my philosophy and, up till now, I've been quids in.
KB.
A car drowned in the sea..... - Alex J M
Your question is, of course, somewhat rhetorical Alex. It's hard to
imagine that there isn't further unpleasantness going on, out of sight.
The thing that springs to mind is though........all the people, on
this site as well as elsewhere, who speak disparagingly and
contemptuously of others who buy brand new vehicles as opposed to
used or almost new.
As you've said yourself, you've concealed the facts from the dealer
- and I can quite see why - but if you
decide the car is now a liability and move it on,
then someone else will inherit it.
When my Clio got flooded I, thereafter, felt as though the
car had been.....well, sort of violated....as it were, and was slightly
relieved when it eventually went, although as it happens, I do
know that it's been OK since.
Sorry not top have added anything to your question, but I
do get get miffed at the attitude of those who, for
whatever reason, don't buy new and castigate those who choose to.
"Buy new at discount, sell privately with the car in good
condition", has been my philosophy and, up till now, I've been
quids in.
KB.


The moral implications of my situation are not lost on me. I certainly wouldn't sell the car privately, I just couldn't look someone in the eye, take the £10500 or so I'd expect from a private sale, and then look myself in the mirror.

I realise by passing on the car to another dealer I'm doing exactly the same thing by proxy, because the car will ultimately be bought by a private buyer. I can sort of justify it to myself because I think dealers are theives of the highest order and I, friends and family have had nothing but bad experiences with them - but of course, it's not the dealer who'd suffer if something horrible happened to the car once the warranty had expired.

At the same, I simply can't afford to end up with a car that's effectively worthless if something cataclysmic goes wrong once it's out of warranty.

I'm inclined to keep it and simply take my chances, but at least keep my moral code intact, but when there are thousands of pounds on the line, morals appear to become somewhat flexible.

I've managed to get one dealer to offer me £9700 for trade-in (well above the Glass' guide price), and a little voice inside my head keeps saying, "£9700 for a car that's been full of sea water really isn't a bad deal you know....."
A car drowned in the sea..... - No Do$h
I've managed to get one dealer to offer me £9700 for
trade-in (well above the Glass' guide price), and a little voice
inside my head keeps saying, "£9700 for a car that's been
full of sea water really isn't a bad deal you know....."


Take his hand off and run like a very fast thing.
No Dosh - but then who has?
A car drowned in the sea..... - Miller
Alex, there are enough things in life to worry about without thinking about the financial wellbeing of the next owner of your car, lets face it who sells or changes their car when it is running 100%?

If trading it into a dealer don't give it a second thought, let them sort any problems under their warranty schemes. You're cat converter could expire alot sooner than is otherwise expected, and it wont be cheap to replace!
I think its great others buy new! - Andrew Hamilton
Where would I get cheap second hand vehicles otherwise? I cannot praise enough those who reduce my motoring costs.
Its a bit late now but after a sea dunking perhaps getting the body rustproofing people to spray lots of neutralising solution into the body cavities might have saved you mechanical problems. I found phosphoric acid quite good but needs care as does irritate skin and eat away anything alkalie like concrete! It also cleans up copper pipes a treat.
A car drowned in the sea..... - KB.
Interesting and considered replies and I, being no more of an Angel than anyone else, would agree with Alex's point of view and would undoubtedly allow the dealer mentioned the benefits to be had from the transaction and would be suitably glad to have done so. Provided that you don't relieve him of something that's got an equally interesting history.

I'm surprised that no-one has come up with an instance of a brand new car that fell off a transporter and got subsequently re-aligned or has stood in a wet field for 2 years...... or fell off a ship in the Channel and got rear ended by 2 passing ships in the night, only to be dried out in a Peckham railway arch and advertised as "Special offer due to cancelled order".
KB.
A car drowned in the sea..... - Hugo {P}
Alex

If you like the car, why not get a bodywork specialist to overhaul the floorpan and associated components and then keep it?

A few quid here would keep the devil you know and relieve those concience issues you have.

If you later decide to swap it, just console yourself with the fact that you've taken reasonable actions to protect the mechanical and electronic integrety of the car.

Hugo
A car drowned in the sea..... - Blue {P}
Can you not get an expert (non-dealer) to look and advise if there's any signs of internal damage? Perhaps an endoscope in the body? Unfortunately I have no idea where you could find someone like this...

Blue
A car drowned in the sea..... - Dave_TD
How much sea water actually got inside the car?
I'm presuming a fair bit will have sloshed in when you opened the door to get in and drive it away. I've had flood damage up to wheel height before and not had any lasting car interior problems.

If your dealer had to strip the INTERIOR of the car out to change the cables, I would think that's where they run, not outside the car!
Boot and fuel filler cables are basically the same as bicycle brake cables and car bonnet release cables, fairly cheaply made and "waterproofed" with a cursory blob of grease at each end. They shouldn't fail again now you've had them replaced.
I wouldn't imagine any lasting damage will have been done to any electrical parts unless they were completely submerged. The only possible problem may arise with any connectors at carpet level corroding, ie passenger seat airbag sensor plug, seatbelt catch warning light connector.

Is the car built from galvanised steel?
As you washed the underbody very thoroughly as soon as possible I can't see that any lasting bodywork problems will have taken root. After all, cars are built to have salty water thrown at the underside at 70mph, day in day out, on motorways in the winter!

Just my humble opinion, hth.

Dave.
A car drowned in the sea..... - dan
One day you'll go outside put the key in the lock and 'poof' just like that slightly disturbing advert with the two pigeons and the disintegrating car.

You were lucky to get it out of the sea at all if it was up to your bonnet! I have a marine fishtank in the lounge, (bear with me), galvanised tools, chrome fittings anything left remotely near the tank begins to rust...rapidly. I would expect that there will be accelerated oxidation everywhere in your bodywork where water will have got to, under the carpets, in the sills, the door cavities etc.. If you hadn't rinsed the underside l would get it up on a ramp and checkout everything underneath, seals, brake piping, engine mounts!

The reason your cables have gone is due to the amount of exposure they have suffered proportional to their cross section and thus strength, everything else will have suffered the same amount of damage proportional to the surface area exposed... Basically you might find that in a few years your car has had it, rusted up and full of screwed wiring.

I am probably being rather negative but sea water is vicious, its a rather more active than the stuff they spread on roads. I would have left the car in the sea, gone back to a pub and claimed a write-off.
A car drowned in the sea..... - Dave N
Most insurance companies will write off any vehicle that has had water inside due to further problems with corrosion in electrics. Simply because they could be proved liable for any further, possibly catastrophic, problems down the line.

There is a huge difference between submersion and spray, ask anyone who goes off-road what submersion can do to all sorts of things from wheel bearings to transfer boxes.

And a warning to all that use car washes, they use recycled water and have no mechanism for removing salt from that water, so in winter you get a saline car wash.

A car drowned in the sea..... - nick
I'm a coastguard and we regularly take our vehicles on the big beaches here in Lincolnshire. We always hose them down well and they always look great...but when we get rid of them, although very low mileage and looking beautifully shiny, they are completely rotten underneath. I suppose this isn't surprising as they get regular soakings, far in excess of any road use could give them.
However, occasionally people get stuck on the beach in their 4x4s, having watched the adverts and therefore thinking they can go anywhere and finding out the real world is less forgiving. In the cases I've heard of where the vehicle has had the tide come over it, the vehicle is never the same again. Strange electrical malfunctions start appearing after a few weeks and months as the connections start to corrode. I wouldn't touch a car that had been in sea water with a bargepole. It is so much more nasty than fresh water, it's almost impossible to get rid of all the salt.
In the case that started this thread, if the water was below the major electrical components and the loom, you might be lucky and just end up with accelerated corrosion in the box sections of the body. I wouldn't risk it though, I'd shift it now while it all works and looks good. If it bothers your morals then come clean about it when you sell, offer it at a low price and let the punter make his own mind up.
A car drowned in the sea..... - dan
and let the punter make up his own mind....

So punter what do you reckon? Punter? Punter? Wow look at him go...
A car drowned in the sea..... - Crombster
Thats put me right off fishing a BMW out of the English Channel!

A car drowned in the sea..... - Alex J M
Thanks for all the replies to date.

I'm really in two minds about it, on the one hand it's a great car, comfortable, pleasant to drive, well equipped, reliable.

Certainly with the budget I'd have if replacing it on trade-in I'd be going down the ladder a bit (to a Ford or a SEAT for example).

If I really thought there was no major damage done or disaster in waiting, I'd happily keep it - but from what I've read on this thread that isn't likely.

The water wasn't *that* deep, it was getting up to the top of the wheels when I found it, and on the way out a surge came in, but that only lasted a few seconds - but even then, the message seems to be that the best case scenario is that I'll be looking at an increased rate of corrosion which will become apparent as time goes on.

Maybe I'll take that £9700 I was offered on trade-in at the Ford garage and get myself a three month old Focus TDCi, or failing that, there's a nice six month old Puma 1.7 Zetec which has caught my eye.

Or I could be really stupid and go down the local Jap importers and get something mad like a Celica GT-Four.
A car drowned in the sea..... - Dynamic Dave
Maybe I'll take that £9700 I was offered on trade-in


Any chance you posting the Registration number, just in case any of us were to stumble upon it for sale on a forcourt, then we can give it a wide birth :o)
A car drowned in the sea..... - Alex J M
I am probably being rather negative but sea water is vicious,
its a rather more active than the stuff they spread on
roads. I would have left the car in the sea, gone
back to a pub and claimed a write-off.


That did occur to me, but at that point I'd only had the car for six weeks, my insurance was already £850 per year fully comp (under 30 and only one year's no claims), and I dreaded to think what'd happen to my premiums if I claimed a write-off on a 13 grand car.

Plus, I was concerned that they'd do the old "act of God" thing to me and not pay out, so on balance I decided to do a bit of wading and retrieve it.....
A car drowned in the sea..... - Blue {P}
I know this has all been doom and gloom so far, but before taking the step of selling it, I really would try and get the box sections etc. checked. If the rustproofing is very good, then maybe it will be OK. Maybe I'm been a bit naive, but you never know, it may continue to run fine for the next 10 years.

Just out of interest, what make and model of car is it?

Blue

 

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