Cars and the monsoon: What to do if your vehicle gets soaked

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- During this summer monsoon, as cars drive through flooded streets and swollen washes, many vehicles get soaked. The moisture can take a serious toll on what you drive.

"You don't want to run the risk of getting water into your engine oil," says master mechanic Dave Striegel. "That will ruin your engine."

He has some tips for drivers who get caught in a flood.

"If you get stuck in the flood waters, one of the first things you want to do is shut the vehicle down," he advises. "Do not run your car."

If the car is stuck there, try disconnecting your battery before leaving the vehicle, in order to protect sensitive electronics.

And remember, if the car's interior gets soaked, remove the carpeting and seats to reduce mold buildup. "We've got to get that carpet out," he says. "We've got to disinfect it and make sure no mold is growing under that carpeting."

And if you're in the market for a used car, you can watch out for mold by doing a simple sniff test. If it smells musty, a car might have been caught in a flood. "Flood waters carry dangerous bacteria," Striegel says. "You don't know where that water came from. It could have been from a pasture or sewage overflow."