'98 Maibu drove through water

A woman I know drove her '98 Malibu into deep water almost up to the door handles after a flash flood here. I told her I'd post what she told me here and see if anyone has any
ideas. The car actually kept running as she drove through the water, and she parked it and went to work, came out later and it wouldn't start. After cranking it for quite awhile it actually did, start but didn't run like it did before. A week later, it no longer runs, just cranks but doesn't fire. And now, when turning the ignition key to the on or start position, nothing on the dash comes on at all, no indicator lights of any kind, no odometer, gauges don't move. The radio still plays and headlights, wipers still work. As far as it not starting, I would have thought the crank sensor connection would be the likely culprit due to having been under water, hence no firing nor smell of fuel when cranking... But the instrument cluster being dead now might point to something else as the cause. I suppose it's possible the ignition switch just co-incidentally happened to fail right at the same time -- which I have read they are known to do on an Olds Intrigue of the same year, and they appear to be the same switch. She has a bunch of junk hanging on the keyring with her keys, which I have heard can cause problems with the switch. For now the car is just parked in front of their house. She actually just wanted to junk it but her boyfriend thinks that would be a waste, as it's an otherwise decent car, reasonably clean, decent looking, and probably had a lot of life left in it otherwise. I do not want to get involved in messing with it because I think a flooded car can end up with all kinds of glitches, now and in the future. Glad it's not my problem. I told him if someone offered to sell me a car like that -- but it didn't run and had been flooded like that, even for a couple hundred bucks, I'd turn it down. Engine is a 3100, unknown miles. Anyway, I told him I'd post it on here for the hell of it and see if anyone had any suggestions as to why the thing won't start, as well as the dash being dead like that. TIA..
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As you signalled, this is a mess. If the water was as deep as you report, then a plethora of electrical problems could be involved. Even if a patient mechanic found the leading causes, this thing can come back on you like bad meat. I would run, not walk, from this one.
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She has the right idea. Every electrical connector that got wet is potentially corroded. Cost of repair could possibly pay for a 2010 model. Junk it and be done. Flood cars cannot be sold as is.
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On 08/15/2010 10:21 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Alternately get yourself a case of deoxit and silicone grease and go to town on the connections. It's the only way.
nate
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James Goforth wrote:

Basically it's now a parts car. I would suspect EVERY sensor and wiring connector under the hood. Alternator, and engine computer, ABS and such will all need to be tested real well. I would also suspect that the engine sucked in some water and damaged it. Transaxle probably has some water in it as well.
I went through a flooded vehicle like this a few years ago. It was a VERY cheap Oldsmobile that came out of an auction after a flood downstate. I ended up draining every fluid, flushing everything out and then filling with new. Engine came apart because it had set long enough that it was questionable about internal rust/damage. EVERY piece of wiring was checked and every connector was opened and cleaned and greased as I went through the harness. Replaced any sensor that wasn't sealed and then tested everything twice. I figure that I had close to 100 hours of labor in it plus all the parts. That included new carpet and very good cleaning of the entire vehicle.
Car ran fine once I was done but it was a LOT of work and extra money. It also developed a few "interesting" electronic glitches until I managed to find the bad ground connection.
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Steve W.

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