Flooding inside vehicle? Learn how to avoid a costly repair

flooding car
Flooding inside vehicle can occur in any vehicle.

Yes it can happen to you! Flooding inside vehicle is a common occurrence. Avoid a costly repair with some simple steps.

Clogged HVAC Box, leads to flooding inside vehicle

Unexplained flooding in your vehicle is a common problem. If it is gradual, you may not notice it for quite some time, which will cause expensive damage. A way Flooding in your vehicle can occur is through your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Condition) System. This is susceptible to clogging and then flooding the interior of your vehicle! Your HVAC System is enclosed in a case. Within this case is a heater core which is a mini radiator that is used to heat the air flowing through it warming up the passenger compartment. In the box is an evaporator, if vehicle is equipped with air conditioning. This is a type of mini radiator. The refrigerant fluid flows through, causing the evaporator to get very cold. When the air flows through it, it cools the passenger compartment. The box contains a blower motor, door flaps and actuator to control temperature, vent flow, fresh air control and air re-circulation. It may contain sensors, rheostat and has a drain. The drain is the subject of this writing, because it is a common occurrence to have problems with this drain and those problems lead to water damage in your car!

Your HVAC System box

Your HVAC System box takes in fresh air from around the area by your wiper blades. When it rains, water flows down the windshield and blows over the hood, then flows into the fresh air duct. In the fresh air duct there are drains to remove excess water to prevent water from entering the HVAC box. Excess water will move through the HVAC box and out the HVAC drain.

flooding inside vehicle
Debris Over Fresh Air Ducts, can lead to flooding inside vehicle

So here is how the problem can begin. In the spring, flowering plants and trees drop debris, such as petals, pollen, winged seeds, (called double Samaras nick named “helicopters or whirligigs”), stringy stuff, the little golden “beards” (also called catkins), pine tree needles and bud covers.
In the fall, the leaves and pine needles accumulate over fresh air duct screens. They slip through the screens and work their way into the fresh air ducts. When it rains, debris is also washing down and if enough debris has accumulated, the drains become clogged. When we use our HVAC system, debris goes into HVAC box and starts restricting and eventually clogging the HVAC drain.

Final Warning before flooding inside vehicle

The HVAC box begins to fill with water. You may hear water sloshing around when making turns or you may also see cold smoke emitted from the vents at times when the air conditioning is on. But even if you don’t, water may still be accumulating in the HVAC box. The water will start to cause damage to items in the HVAC box. Then it leaks into passenger compartment. This can be detrimental to your vehicle. There are wiring harnesses running under your vehicle carpeting. Rust, mold, and mildew can start to occur. Today’s vehicles have many computer networks and many computer modules, all of which can be damaged with flooding inside vehicle.
Water and electricity related damage can cause very expensive repairs not to mention the ghost problems your vehicle may exhibit intermittently. Those annoying problems that come and go can eventually leave you stranded all because of flooding inside vehicle.
So what can you do to avoid this costly repair? In the spring, when pollen collects on the windshield, it is time to open the hood and remove any debris that is collecting by the wipers and fresh air ducts. In the fall, when the leaves are falling, it is time to remove any debris. This saves you from possible costly repairs and help reduces the likelihood of mold and mildew growth in your HVAC System.
The other item that needs to be addressed is having your cabin filter system serviced, at minimum once a year. If musty odor has developed, a system sanitize can be performed.
Autobahn Car Repair can help you with any of these problems. We can clear your drains if you are flooding inside vehicle, hear water sloshing around, or have cold smoke flowing from vents. We can also service the cabin filter and provide a system sanitize.