Did I ruin my car?
March 30, 2007 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Did I totally screw up my car? It got all wet inside and I'm worried that I've ruined it.

About six weeks ago, we had a wicked ice/snow storm here in Boston. My car was parked on a really busy road, at the end of a block, and during the intial storm the plow piled on a whole bunch of ice and snow and some rocks thrown in for fun. I only drive my car occasionally so I didn't dig it out right away, thinking it would melt in a couple of days and I'd be able to get it out.

Well. The ice and snow all over the car did not melt, but the ice and snow under the car did. I left it like this for probably three weeks. When I finally decided to attempt to dig it out, I got in the car only to find that the floor was soaking wet. The puddle the car was sitting in was probably six inches deep. I did manage to get the car out as most of the ice around the car had melted by that point.

It's been two weeks or so and the floor and the floor mats are still wet. Did I totally fuck up my car? Is it going to rust up and fall apart underneath me tomorrow? It's a 96 Nissan Sentra. How can I dry it? I know I can leave the mats out in the sun to dry, but what about the interior floor?

I know I was lazy - trust me, I've been kicking myself for being such a dumbass about it. Plus, it smells really musty inside the car so every time I drive the car I get to remind myself about being lazy again.

Thanks for any advice you might have.
posted by sutel to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Best answer: My son left the sunroof slightly ajar in his car a few months ago, right before a rainstorm and a freezing night, and when he woke up the inside of his car looked like the mansion in Dr. Zhivago - - everything totally covered in ice. When it thawed, everything eventually dried out except the rugs, which were still sopping a week later. We took the car to an auto upholsterer, who took out the rugs (not the mats, the rugs themselves) and dried them out and then reinstalled them. No smell, everything fine. It was about 80.00 dollars.
posted by iconomy at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2007

You want to do what iconomy's son did. If you try some passive in-place method, you're going to have a big mildew farm underfoot, and it will make you very unhappy. I have been in cars with mildewed trunk liners, and it was unpleasant. Having mildewed carpets would be much worse.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:03 AM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: thanks! I never thought of going to an upholsterer but I will go and find one. (Anyone have any recs for the Boston area?)
posted by sutel at 11:07 AM on March 30, 2007

When I've done that, I've left the car running, with heat on and full blast, all night. It dries out pretty well. In cold weather, do not leave it on defrost (i.e., hot air to the window) - you can crack a windshield with the temp differential.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on March 30, 2007

A couple times I left a sunroof ajar and it rained (once or twice leaving over an inch of standing water on the floor of the car), I was able to nearly dry the carpets using my dad's shop wet vac. (Perhaps a relative or friend has one?) It's amazing how much of the water they pick up.
posted by aught at 12:13 PM on March 30, 2007

The carpets were under water for three weeks. I don't think leaving the heater on or using a shop vac is going to fix this. If sutel tries one of those methods, and it doesn't work, the failure won't be apparent until the mildew is entrenched. At that point, all the carpets must be replaced.

Is there a car wash near you that does detailing? They could probably do the drying or refer you to someone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:23 PM on March 30, 2007

I had a leaky sunroof (in Seattle of all places) and had good results using the hilariously named Dri-Z-Air; little silica pellets that remove moisture from the air. It took a while but eventually the carpets dried.
posted by OpinioNate at 12:25 PM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: I called an upholstery place around here and the guy told me that the cover underneath the rugs can get wet and mildewy. He asked if the car smells and I said yes, so he said the cover is probably wet and needs to be replaced.

As much as I would like to try stuff like wet vacs or leaving the heater on, I don't know if that is going to work because, as Kirth Gerson pointed out, it's been wet for quite some time. The guy quoted me $300, though. I can afford it but yikes. I might try a detailing place first and then go from there.
posted by sutel at 1:03 PM on March 30, 2007

Hell, I have to sponge an inch of water out the footwell of my truck every time I want to drive it. Sure it smells but any truck that doesn't have an odor is sissy. YEAH!
posted by Foam Pants at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2007

If you have some basic wrenches and stuff, you can probably remove the carpet and pad yourself. Once it's out you can probably dry it out thoroughly, clean it and reinstall it. Here is a link to directions on removing the carpet, cleaning it, and restoring it to almost new condition from a Ford Escort forum (different model, but gives an idea of what's involved).
posted by Doohickie at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2007

damp rid is another great way to remove moisture from things. A bunch of damp-rid cans could theoretically help dry your car more quickly.

They sell 'em at lowes and other hardware stores. Works great. It's not silica beads, but rather some kind of chemical that reduces water's solvency in air, so the powder disolves, and leaves this salty water at the bottom of the can.

This stuff can remove a LOT of water.
posted by delmoi at 2:47 PM on March 30, 2007

Or you could search for "damp car" in AskMe's serach box and found this post -would have saved a couple of weeks before your next question
posted by Neiltupper at 3:46 AM on March 31, 2007

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