San Antonio-area auto shops seeing more water damaged vehicles after floods

Leon Valley mechanic shares tips to help people try to save their engines

SAN ANTONIO – This week’s heavy rain had many scrambling, with people seen pushing their cars to higher ground, driving to safety, and some took the risk of going through floodwaters to make it home.

Vaeda Corso, a Leon Valley resident, said her car was parked in the street and had water up to the back bumper before she moved it into the driveway.

“It was just kind of unbelievable, like we have been here for so long, like 12 years, and it’s never gotten that bad,” Corso said. “If it was a couple more inches, I wouldn’t be surprised if it floated down the street.”

Since moving the car, it hasn’t started back up. Corso and her father have stripped it down to let it dry out and hope for the best.

Ruben Gonzalez, the owner of Ruben’s Auto Repair in Leon Valley, said four vehicles with water damage were brought into his shop on Thursday. He has two more scheduled to come on Friday.

He said the worst case he saw on Thursday involved a truck “at least going to be ($10,000-$15,000). The Hemi engine alone is almost ($8,000-$9,000), and that’s without labor.”

Gonzalez said the truck even had water stuck in the dashboard.

He offered the following tips if your car has been sitting in water:

  • Check the air cleaner box. If the filter inside is saturated, or if you can see water in the box the filter is located in, do not start your car. Gonzalez said doing so will lead to the water being sucked into the engine, which leads to the most expensive repairs.
  • If you find yourself in a situation where you are driving through high water, stay steady on the gas, he said. Slowing down or stopping will lead to your exhaust taking on water and is likely the vehicle stalling out.

Rescue officials say if you see high water turn around, don’t drown.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.