April showers may bring more than May flowers for you this year...how about engine failure? (Along with higher gas prices, too!) With spring weather taking over, rain and storms are a big part of bringing us into summer. What you may forget- is that those April showers can damage your engine. I've seen it many times personally- a storm drops a few inches of rain, the rain collects on roadways, sometimes forming into puddles that are near impossible to see, people drive through them and ruin their engines.
(Check out a how hundreds of cars were hydrolocked after owners tried to start their engines)
More information from a mechanic on hydrolock
Many times this can happen where a road moves lower to pass under a bridge. After a large storm, water collects on the roadway, and motorists sometimes attempt to drive though it- a very misguided thing to do. Ever heard of the term "hydrolock"? The phrase was coined years ago, referring to water entering the engine and causing the internals to bend or break. While driving though a puddle may save you time, you should stop, evaluate the situation, and think before driving through it.
Look at this Hyundai driver that nearly hydrolocked but saved his car not not driving it further.
The problem lies with how the engine gets air. The air intake is obviously the point of entry for engines, and some vehicles are very low to the ground or have air intakes that are closer to the bottom of their car. While having a lower air intake may result in cooler air (and better performance), driving through a puddle with a vehicle that is low to the ground or a sedan man mean that water gets into the engine.
Look at this Subaru that hydrolocked in a puddle!
Once you drive though the puddle, water fills the engine bay and sometimes enters the intake. Once in the intake, if you are pressing the gas the throttle body is partially open. The throttle body is a metal plate that opens when you step on the gas, allowing air (or in this case water) to enter the engine. Once air or water (if you're unlucky) enters the combustion chamber, the rotation of the rod (the piece that connects the piston to the crankshaft) compresses what is usually the air/fuel mixture. Air and fuel compress creating a controlled explosion, resulting in power. Since water is not compressible like air, many times the rod will bend under the pressure, and result in bend rods. At that stage you're talking thousands of dollars to fix the engine.
Do yourself a favor- if you drive a smaller sedan (or even an SUV), be careful when driving though large puddles to avoid the headache of engine replacement (if it looks deeper than a foot or two, turn around!). It's relatively simple to avoid (or so it seems), but can end up saving you thousands of dollars. However, if you're unlucky (like I was), and do have your car stall after driving through a puddle DO NOT START the engine. It may result in a bent rod or something worse. Call a towing service and bring it to a shop- many times the water can be removed before causing damage!