Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • Hydrolock is caused by water entering the engine, usually in a flood or storm
  • Only comprehensive car insurance will cover hydrolock
  • It’s important to be aware of your policy’s coverage and exclusions

Sometimes, driving in wet conditions can lead to more than you expect. Sometimes, wet driving can cause a hydrolocked engine. Hydrolock, short for hydrostatic lock, could render an engine non-functional.

When this occurs, filing a car insurance claim can be critical to repairing the engine and getting back on the road. However, there are major differences between types of coverage and policies regarding coverage for hydrolock.

You can compare the options available for auto insurance in terms of plans and premiums by shopping online. Different insurers provide levels of coverage that you can choose to find the best fit for your situation.

Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool above to get started finding the right coverage for you.

What causes a hydrolocked engine?

A hydrostatic lock is caused when water finds its way into the engine, shutting it down. When water gets inside the engine, it causes the engine to seize by preventing its overall internal combustion.

The fluid enters the combustion chamber, preventing the engine from completing its cycle and the engine is prevented from running.

Because liquids like water cannot be compressed, the pistons inside the engine cylinder also come to a stop.

A successful repair of a hydrolock depends on the quantity of water involved and the condition of the engine itself.

Sometimes, no serious damage has occurred to the engine, while other cases of hydrolock can be devastating, requiring a full engine replacement.

Nothing unusual or reckless needs to happen for hydrolock to set in. Driving through puddles, unexpected or flash floods, or along the beach can all lead to a hydrolock.

Depending on conditions, even small amounts of water may be able to shut down the car engine. Hydrolock can be caused by flash floods or by driving through a deep puddle after a rainstorm where it is impossible to determine the depth of water on the road.

There are also other, less frequent potential causes of a hydrolocked engine:

  • In some cases, hydrolock can be caused by a head gasket that blows and leaks engine coolant.
  • A malfunctioning injector or carburetor could also lead to hydrolock in the engine.

If you’re wondering whether your car will be fine after driving through excess water, you should know that it depends on how much water you drove through and where your air intake is located. If the car’s air intake sits low, you might be in trouble because it could have sucked in some water and can enter your engine.

In general, in order for comprehensive auto insurance to cover hydrolock, it must be the result of water damage in the engine.

However, check your brakes first, as wet brakes can lose their grip. Before turning the car off, listen to the engine. If some water has affected the engine, you will hear a noise. Moreover, if you notice some strange behaviour, it would be best to have it towed to the repair shop.

You can shop online to compare car insurance policies from a variety of companies to ensure that you find a policy that best meets your needs and provides the highest level of coverage at the best value.

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Can comprehensive insurance cover hydrolock?

There are three major types of car insurance available to drivers, presenting very different levels of coverage. Liability insurance does not cover damage to vehicles caused by water.

This type of insurance is mandated by the state and covers damages to another vehicle in the case of a car crash, including bodily injury and property damage.

Collision insurance is a step up and provides coverage for you and your vehicle in case of an auto accident or collision. The collision here doesn’t need to be a crash with another car; it could include damage caused by hitting a mailbox or even a pothole.

However, hydrolock generally is not caused by a car crash, unless the crash somehow pushes your vehicle into standing water. In this rare case, it would become part of the collision claim.

Comprehensive coverage is the fullest form of a standard auto insurance policy. Comprehensive auto insurance provides coverage for the following:

It also covers damages caused by flooding and other water and weather-related damage, like floods, rain, or puddles. With full comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, there is a significant chance of having hydrolock issues covered by your auto insurance.

When choosing a car insurance policy, you can compare the available options online. This will help you not only choose the insurer that is the best value for you but also to select the type of policy that gives you the coverage you need.

Are there exceptions to coverage for hydrolock?

Even when you do have comprehensive auto insurance, there may be exceptions for some kinds of hydrolock events.

Hydrolock caused by internal mechanical failures rather than by water issues like flooding, rain, or street puddles would not be covered by car insurance. In that case, if your car is still under warranty, it would be best to inquire with your dealer.

In addition, all insurance policies have exclusions. These exempt certain items from coverage in specific situations, even when those items are usually covered.

For example, while a comprehensive policy will cover vandalism, it would reject coverage for vandalism in which you participated.

Some exclusions that an insurer may apply to certain hydrolock situations include:

  • Abuse
  • Misuse
  • Intentional damage

If you experienced hydrolock while driving off-road in a regular passenger vehicle or drove into a lake or river, an insurance company may classify this as abuse or misuse.

Sometimes, insurers may apply this logic to much closer cases, including driving through deep puddles in a storm.

Similarly, if there is evidence that you intentionally drove the car into a dangerous body of water knowing that it could flood the engine and cause hydrolock, an insurer may deny coverage for the claim.

What happens when you file a claim for hydrolock?

If you experience a hydrolocked engine and have comprehensive coverage, you can call your auto insurer in order to file a claim. In this case, the insurance company will investigate and assign an adjuster to the claim.

So long as you can demonstrate the specific event of flooding, highway puddles, rain or a similar event, your car insurer is likely to accept the claim.

In this case, the auto insurance will pay for all needed repairs after you cover any applicable deductible. If the damage is so great as to be nearly or equal to the value of the vehicle itself, the insurance company may write off the vehicle and reimburse you for a total value.

In addition, the insurer will look at when you added comprehensive coverage to your policy. If you have had comprehensive coverage consistently, there will be no concerns in this regard. You simply must have purchased the policy before the damage was caused.

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What’s the bottom line?

Driving through deep water can damage the entire engine intake system. The water in the intake system gets into the combustion cylinder in which pistons compress air. Since water doesn’t compress, the pressure can cause piston rods to bend or crack the engine block.

If your vehicle has experienced water or flood damage, you should not start the engine because it could cause more damage. The best thing to do is to call a mechanic and have the car towed to the nearest repair shop. However, check with your insurance agent first to confirm the amount of coverage before repairs begin.

You can compare online to find comprehensive car insurance from a number of insurers that provide the best value for you. By comparing policies, you can ensure that you have the coverage you need for your vehicle. Use our free comparison tool below to begin.