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Driving through floodwaters can cause serious damage to vehicles

Several roads around mid-Missouri are closed as a result of the flooding in the area. These roads are blocked off with road closure signs and barricades.

Officials warn drivers not drive around these barricades and not to drive into the water on the roads. It can be difficult for drivers to see hazards underneath water covering the roads.

Water can erode the shoulder of roads, wash debris onto the roads, or even wash away entire areas of the road.

The water itself, however, can also cause damage to vehicles, and the costs of repairs can add up quickly.

Steve Heimericks is a mechanic at A to Z Auto Repair in Columbia. He explained all of the damage water can cause to vehicles.

“One of the big things on newer cars, especially, is all the computers and electrical connections. That can be a nightmare if they get water in them because it builds corrosion and doesn’t always show up right away,” he said.

“Your electrical connections are going to be your big one because even though they’re supposed to be watertight, they’re not going to be submerged in water and stay watertight.”

He said water can also come into the air breather on the car and flood the engine by filling the cylinders with water and not allowing it to turn over. Heimericks said this can cause permanent damage to the vehicle’s engine.

He said replacing the engine in a vehicle can cost thousands of dollars to buy the engine and to pay for labor.

Hemericks also said driving into water can plug the exhaust.

“Just like a person breathing in and out, if you can’t exhale the bad gases, the same thing will happen and it will kill the car,” he said.

Water can also cause erosion in the anti-lock braking system, which is an anti-skid braking system.

He said the snorkel where vehicles take in air can be lower than the engine, even somewhere around the mid-tire level, so it can be difficult to know how much water vehicles can get through without running into issues.

“The big, major concern is, you know, the car being washed away driving through floodwaters,” he said.

Drivers can also face fees if they ignore road closures signs and drive around barriers.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department hands out tickets to drivers who go around the signs. Ignoring them is a misdemeanor, and can result in a fine of up to $700, or even 15 days in jail.

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