Last post on Sep 16, 2009 at 8:27 AM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Sedan, Wagon
#1 of 19 CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets
Sep 09, 2009 (7:32 pm)
We had brutal rain in south Texas this afternoon (5.6" in about an hour), and the streets were flooded. Traveling through water up to the axles (2008 Outback) was inevitable... unfortunately. Obviously the engine compartment must have gotten really wet. However, there doesn't seem to be any ill effects: the engine sounds fine, transmission shifts normally, no smoke, etc...
The problem is, my check engine light came on and the cruise control indicator started flashing. Surely there must be others with a similar experience. Should I be overly concerned [about the check engine light]? Also, should I consider any maintenance on parts that the water may have damaged?
Thanks for the help. The Best,
#2 of 19 Re: CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets
Sep 10, 2009 (3:40 am)
It may be worth waiting a day or two and letting everything dry out. I have had similar problems twice and they have resolved after everything dried
#3 of 19 Re: CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets [grahampeters]
Sep 10, 2009 (6:50 am)
Thanks for the tip. Should I be alert of any potential maintenance to avoid trouble down the road?
#4 of 19 Re: CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets [parent1]
Sep 10, 2009 (8:46 am)
Do you have an OBDII code reader, or access to borrow one? That code would be useful in troubleshooting the issue.
You can use WD40 to clean, the WD in the name actually stands for Water Displacing.
Not on any rubber parts, though, which won't like the contact with any petroleum products.
If the plugs went under water I'd probably replace those and the spark plug wires while you're at it. There could be water in those boots that may never evaporate if they're sealed up in there.
We went driving in the Pine Barrens and this particularly crazy guy in a Subaru XT6 drove through deep water and even got water in his intake. Some ad-hoc mechanics removed his plugs, sprayed in WD40, ran the starter a few times to get the water out the engine, and voila! It actually ran again. It was wild.
He did lose his clutch that day, though.
I would go ahead and change all your fluids, to be safe. Flush the brakes, clutch, trans, front diff, rear diff, engine oil, and radiator. Any or all of those could be contaminated if they were under water long enough.
Best of luck.
#5 of 19 Re: CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets [parent1]
Sep 10, 2009 (10:31 am)
Water up to the axles shouldn't be a problem as long as it was a short time and not something done routinely. I agree with Graham and would wait and see.
I also agree with Juice and would want to know the code that was thrown.
Being a 2008 I assume it is still under warranty?
Juice, that crazy person sounds like Mike.
#6 of 19 Re: CHECK ENGINE Light just came on after traveling through flooded streets [bigfrank3]
Sep 10, 2009 (12:16 pm)
No, not paisan. He had his Trooper that day. It was someone else, far crazier than mike.
On a previous trip a different Isuzu Trooper had taken in water. The piston rods actually were bent, so they had it towed out and needed the whole engine replaced.
Water can do serious damage if it gets high enough, that's why off roaders use those snorkels.
#7 of 19 UPDATE... now I'm really nervous
Sep 10, 2009 (1:25 pm)
I drove the car about a mile this morning to make sure everything was on the up and up. The Check Engine light was still on, but the car sounded like it was running fine, and there was no performance problems.
This afternoon, while running errands, the Check Engine light had shut off and it seemed to be running just fine. However, twenty minutes later, while parked, I smelled burning antifreeze. In the 5 minutes it took me to get home, the AC stopped blowing cold air, and the engine was beginning to overheat (needle wasn't burried).
Sure enough, when I got home, there was a steady drip from the radiator (there was also a mist of antifreeze on the ceiling of the hood as if there was a burst). So clearly the radiator has a huge leak. But PLEASE tell me my engine is fine. I ask this because when it started to overheat, I began to hear a knock when I'd accelerate.
#8 of 19 Re: UPDATE... now I'm really nervous [parent1]
Sep 10, 2009 (1:40 pm)
You don't want to overheat an alloy block, but luckily it seems like you caught it early.
Have it towed in for repair, do not drive it to the dealer.
Keep us posted.
I'm not sure how the water would have caused the radiator leak (hot hits cold and sudden contraction causes crack?), but still, be very careful.
#9 of 19 Re: UPDATE... now I'm really nervous [ateixeira]
Sep 10, 2009 (1:58 pm)
Any thoughts as to if this might be a warranty issue? Also, the nearest Subaru dealer is 2.5 hours away... how does the Subaru community feel about taking Subaru's in to non-dealerships for repairs? I only ask because I'm a new Subaru owner... had the car for about 2 months.
Any speculation on the health of my engine?
#10 of 19 Re: UPDATE... now I'm really nervous [parent1]
Sep 10, 2009 (2:49 pm)
It is possible that there is a cracked block issue here. I very much doubt, given the circumstances, that this is a something that would be warranty-related unfortunately. If you have experienced independent mechanics available, there is no reason not to let one inspect the situation.