Have You Ever Experienced Hydrostatic Lock on Your Car?

Hydrostatic lock during rainy season

Driving through gushing water might seem like an adventure to some drivers, but not when they know what can go wrong, in this context, extremely wrong.

We are not talking about slight drizzling, but days when heavy rainfall causing floods, when enormous water makes its way on the road or stagnant water in your way, take a turn because driving your car through it can cost you heavily.

An experienced driver with a grasp on how an internal combustion engine works will try his best to stay away from it. Let us tell you that engine and water are never a great combination. It can only give you a fast track to the garage, or worse, the local scrapyard.

Have You Ever Experienced Hydrostatic Lock on Your Car?

If you made the mistake of driving through heavy water flow, chances are you have already experienced a hydrostatic lock on your car. When your car was in the water or just crossed a water-filled puddle, your car broke down because the engine stopped working. Familiar!!!

It was the hydrostatic lock that made the engine stop. The water filled the combustion chamber, resulting in engine seizure.

If it isn’t your lucky day, the engine might never start because of a catastrophic failure. And you have to go for a complete replacement of the engine.

Let us understand what a hydrostatic lock is and how it works.

What Is a Hydrostatic Lock?

The internal combustion engine looks like a form of an air pump, its internals are all designed to deal with the compression of air and fuel. When the air is replaced by a substantial volume of water, through the intake air pipe into the cylinder, the rotation of the crankshaft forces the piston upwards to try and compress the fluid. HERE

We know that water is virtually incompressible unless a huge amount of pressure is applied to it. The engine components get damaged in this push and pull, resulting in engine failure.

Now, we have understood the basics of hydro static locking and the possibility of a complete engine failure because of it. but how do some car engines only experience minor damage while others car engines are damaged beyond repair? Let us find out.

How Does a Hydrostatic Lock Damage Your Car Engine?

The severity of the engine damage highly depends on the engine’s speed. If the engine is of small capacity and doesn’t generate much force during reciprocation, the motor may simply seize up, grinding to a halt. It will only result in small fixable damage to the engine components.

But if it is a powerful engine with a decent capacity, rotating at any great speed, the reaction forces will most probably break the internal components.

The most common component that takes the hit most of the time is connecting rods. It can bend resulting in the need for replacement and an engine rebuild. Surprisingly, you might run your car for months with bent connecting rods without noticing any problem, but they will fully snap at a point in time, causing large shards of metal to bounce around the cylinders and down into the crankcase. In this case, the car will require an engine replacement.

Other than that, the engine failure can lead to crankcase damage, damaged bearings, piston, a fractured crank, head, or even blockage, or any combination of these.

Possible Causes of Hydrostatic Locking:

Water: As we have discussed earlier, driving through a large body of water can give a chance for water to fill the combustion chamber through the engine’s air intake manifold. With each revolution of the engine, the water starts filling in each cylinder until the pistons cannot compress upwards any longer. And this will result in mechanical failure of the car engine.

Signs of Hydro Locked Engine:

To keep you in a safe space, we have made a list of signs of a hydro locked motor so that you can take the necessary actions before the problem becomes worse.

·     The car won’t start: If there is a large volume of water in the cylinders, the car won’t start and trying to run the engine again and again will only make things worse for your engine.

·     Your engine will run noticeably rough: The water will affect the engine performance and various noises start to come like knocking & hammering.

·     Engine stalling: Like in the case of bent connecting rods, you will be able to drive your car but sometimes, it won’t start. The longer you will wait to take your car to the garage, the more the chances of engine stalling increases. In short, to avoid hydrostatic locking, keep an eye on your engine performance and avoid the flooded roads.

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