Sunday, 6 September 2015

Vehicle (Cosmetic) Water Damage

 Comprehensive coverage, which insures you for the things that happen to your car other than collisions, but if you have only liability insurance, you are not insured for floods. If your vehicle is insured, we strongly recommend your first action should be contacting your insurer for specific advice about what you need to do next. Any vehicle can be repaired if enough time and money is spent on it. However for the average car there are some definite limitations on the extent of repairs that can be carried out before the task becomes uneconomical.

In general, water that goes past the floorboards into the areas where electronics begin, will usually mean the car will cost more to repair than its ‘book’ value. As always check with your insurer before you do anything else.

Salt water is very aggressive and causes much greater damage, has more long term implications than fresh water and is very much harder to deal with. A vehicle damaged in salt water either by flooding or storm, renovation is absolutely a bad choice. Any salt water entering the electrics or electronics is going to severely damaged. These cars are very rarely going to be worth rebuilding, even as parts cars they are very limited in value. In 99% of all cases the electronics are going to be bad or go bad in the very near future

If your vehicle is uninsured or is not insured for this type of damage, you will need to decide on the best course of action for your particular circumstance. Be cognizant that the full extent of damage and required repairs may only become evident over time.

Some General Guidelines

·         Do not start a flooded vehicle until a thorough inspection and cleaning is performed.
·         Take immediate steps to dry the vehicle as much as possible so as to reduce the length of time vehicle components are exposed to water.

·         Contact your insurance company or agent and promptly report the exposure of your vehicle to water or flood.

·         Record the highest level of water exposure on a flooded vehicle. This will aid qualified technicians in evaluating and taking the necessary steps to correct any damage.

·         Contact a certified technician to arrange for an inspection and evaluation of all mechanical components, including the engine, transmission, axles, brake and fuel system for water contamination.

·         Have a qualified technician inspect all wiring and electrical components exposed to water. While many components are protected from casual water exposure, extended flood exposure may have lingering effects. In some instances, difficulty due to water exposure will not surface earlier than 90 days, when computer and other electrical components begin to corrode.


1.      Call your insurance agent immediately to get the process going on the claim.
2.      Assess the damage and take photos of the car and make sure you have documentation of what’s going on.

3.      Do everything you can to comply with the insurer requirements.

Your insurance company will usually send an adjuster to your house or the shop where you’re having the car repaired, If the cost to fix the car is worth more than the car is worth, the vehicle may become a ‘write off’ and you might have an option to take a payout

Rain Ingress Damaged Surfaces

Rain ingress by inadvertently leaving a moon roof, convertible top or vehicles windows open during a rain storm will very likely soak the leather seating and perhaps the carpets. The damage would depend on how long it's exposed to water, restoration is important because it may become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Left for a couple of weeks your whole interior would probably have to be replaced.

There are no leather finishes that are water proof. Leather hides used for automotive upholstery consist of approximately 45 square feet, that are stitched together to form a covering. The thousands of stitch holes allow any standing water to be absorbed and migrate laterally under the urethane finish. The perforated leathers used on many BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsches and other cars also allow standing water to permeate the urethane.

Leather that has been soaked in water may become brittle and may be ruined due to the formation of water mark stains and blemishes. Water damage restoration for leather is very manageable using the correct products and methodologies. When leather becomes soaked or wet, the best way to dry it is to use clean, dry towels to wipe away the water. Never dry leather using a heater as this will cause the leather to shrink rapidly, causing further drying and cracking.

Finished leather (urethane pigmentation) is water resistant, which means if you spill or allow liquid onto the surface and clean it right away it should not cause problems. Damage to the electronics that are under the seats (seatbelt sensor, seat positioning motor, air bag sensors, and etc) may be a cause for concern.
Obviously the amount of damage could be lessened dependent upon how quickly action was taken. If you saw it immediately, and got it home quickly and dried it out using towels to soak up the rain water, most things would be okay.


Avoid flexing or bending the leather while you are restoring it because leather is weakened when the fibres are dry and it may crack.

Wet a towel with warm water, wringing out excess. Proceed to wipe the leather to remove any dirt and moisten the surface. If you are working on a large item, do one section at a time so you can apply Leather Master™ Soft Touch (ex Vital) while the surface is still moist. This is not a conditioner per se; it contains polymers in an aqueous emulsion and is used to improve and maintain the tactile feel and lustre by rehydration and to ensure the leather remains matte, soft and supple.

Apply a small amount to a clean, damp 100% cotton micro fibre towel, use a circular motion and slight pressure to ensure the product permeates the dried-out pores, but do not push hard enough to damage the leather. Allow 20-30 minutes dwell time; unless the damage is severe, it should soften up after you massage it for a few minutes and then wipe surface with a dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel.

Although water (hydration) is good for leather and is what keeps it in good condition generally when its fibres become over soaked they swell and become deformed. When they dry they may not shrink back and revert to their original form and so become more brittle and distorted. Unfortunately at this stage it may be impossible to rectify.


With leather, it is much easier to practice prevention than it is to try to resolve major challenges after the fact. Leather Protection will also work to remove small surface scratches on finished leathers. In general, Leather Protection Cream is used as a final step in combination with most of the Leather Master products.

This is essential as it will protect the surface finish (Leather Master™ - Protection Cream, a Scotchgard™ type, water-based product) as a sacrificial layer; this way you are not actually cleaning the Leather's original surface, but cleaning from the surface of the protection. It also makes dirt easier to clean off

The polymers penetrate the surface of finished leather and cross-link to form a durable protective film that is breathable, allowing transpiration and keeps the leather supple. Being aqueous (water- based) it restores moisture to finished leather and provides a protective sacrificial barrier against all kinds of soiling, water, oil, alcohol-based stains and perspiration marks, so you are cleaning the protective layer

Food Water Damage

Water damage remediation is a lot more complex than simply removing the carpets and drying them. Water from the street is considered black water, which could contain any number of different  microbes, fecal matter, road oil and any other  impure substance that are now contained in flood water. Proper personal protection equipment (PPE) should include gloves, masks and etc.

Although water (hydration) is generally good for leather when it becomes saturated the fibrils (fibres) swell and then become distorted and if not dried correctly will dry back in the distorted state which is then impossible to rectify. As the fibres of the leather have been damaged there is probably very little that can be done to restore them.

Remove the seats, loose mats, carpet and any sound deadening rubber material. An initial steam cleaning of the floor pan as well as the carpet padding, seats surfaces, mats and carpeting. Foam seating surfaces can hold a lot of water and should be thoroughly dried out.Bacteria, moulds, and viruses are types of biological contaminants. 

Moulds do not require liquid water to grow. They only require relative humidity levels from 65% to 99% at the surface on which they grow. If you keep the humidity low enough, you can prevent mould growth. Maintaining relative humidity below 50% inhibits mould and mildew growth and bacteria. These contaminants may also breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in a/c ducts, drain pans, or overflow pipe.

Just like mould and mildew contamination in other areas, you cannot wash or shampoo it away. This only exasperates the problem. Mould is a form of fungus which forms anywhere there’s moisture trapped in the air, and is spread by releasing millions of tiny spores into the air. You cannot see the spores but you may be able to see moulds, grey, green or black in colour, growing on damp surfaces.

Microban Mildew & Mold Remover is an environmentally-safe, anti-microbial formula that destroys mould, mildew, and other bacterial odours on contact. When you cannot use chlorine, Microban is a very effective solution. The formula is a water-based, non-flammable bactericide, fungicide, deodorant and anti-microbial, all in one formulation

              Application - do not dilute, use full strength, apply via sprayer to porous surfaces until moist, no not over wet, brush into carpeting, allow to dry 10-20 minutes. Due to VOC Regulations Microban cannot ship to California

Microban® Disinfectant Spray - environmental protection against: germs, odours, mould and mildew- The first thing to do is to raise as much dirt / dust from the carpet with a brush by using a circular motion over the whole carpeted area; this will loosen the debris and bring it to the top of the carpets pile, enabling a vacuum to remove it

Sporicidin® Mold & Mildew Stain Remover - concentrate is a blend of enzymes in a low foaming solution formulated to loosen and remove dried debris, protein, blood and mucin deposits. It effectively cleans both natural and synthetic fibres that have been soiled with organic and inorganic debris. Ideal for use as a pre-cleaner for mould remediation, and restoration applications

It is an excellent product for removing unsightly stains left by microbiological life, such as mould, mildew, moss, bacteria, and algae stains. MRC-101 series is a biodegradable, environmentally friendly and water-based stain remover that has been developed for mould remediation and flood damage restoration projects.

MRC-101 is easy to use - spray it onto the stained area, let penetrate and dry, then remove any remaining excess by rinsing, brushing or wiping away - it’s that simple! MRC-101 is suitable for use on commercial and residential stain cleaning and removal projects and recommended for most construction materials. 

Mix thoroughly prior to use to ensure ingredients are dispersed evenly throughout solution. May be applied with a brush, roller, bug, Hudson or airless sprayer at a rate of up to 1000 sq. ft./gallon, depending upon amount of staining to be removed and the age of the stain. Multiple applications may be necessary.

When applying with airless sprayer, use medium pressure setting and a .018 spray tip. Apply when surface or air temperatures are 50ºF (10ºC) or higher. Do not dilute.

Drying Time
Dries to the touch in ~ 30 minutes and fully dry in 1 hour at normal temperature, cooler temperatures or high humidity may lengthen drying time.


Follow-up remediation with a vapour steam cleaner to ensure all mould spores and fungi are neutralized paying particular attention to HVAC vents and ducting, upholstery seams and stitching.

Drying out the Interior

Help the surfaces to dry with the use of a fan, dehumidifier and Silica throughout the restoration process. Dry the interior by opening doors and allowing forced air circulation to evaporate the water.
Many pressed metal components used inside vehicle cabins are not painted or have only thin protective coatings. This is particularly true of seat and under dash components. These may begin to rust after exposure to water. A protective spray of water dispersant may help, though many of these components will be difficult to access

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

When mould spores are present in large quantities, they can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Some moulds also produce Mycotoxin’s, a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals.

There are hundreds of thousands of types of mould, but only about ten types cause health problems, commonly sinusitis, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions, as well as allergies. I would strongly recommend you wear appropriate personal protection equipment

1. Eye Protection: I would strongly advise the wearing of safety glasses, goggles or a visor when dealing with mould.
2. Hand Protection; with the verity of chemicals a detailer uses on a daily basis wearing chemical-resistant gloves resist penetration and permeation, and will provide protection against dermatitis and chemical burns. Gloves can provide protection, but they must be chosen with care, the proper selection matched to the hazard is critical. Chemical-resistant gloves resist penetration and permeation, and cam protect against dermatitis, chemical burns and corrosion.
3. Respiratory Protection: When cleaning up a small area affected by mould, you should use an N-95 respirator. 
This device covers the nose and mouth, will filter out 95% of the particulates in the air, and is available in most hardware stores.  In situations where a full-face respirator is in use, additional eye protection is not required. Mould can cause respiratory problems and the spores could be harmful to your lungs
4. Disposal: properly dispose of any / all towels/or clothes (including the cabin air filter) that have been used for mould removal and any other materials that are contaminated with mould should be placed into impervious bags or closed containers while in the remediation area. Rinse your gloved hands with clean water, once you remove the gloves; wash your hands thoroughly using a disinfectant. Any mould contaminated materials, once in a sealed bags or container can usually be discarded as regular waste

          Professional detailers – as your you’re dealing with health-related issues, bear in mind that we are living in a litigious society, so document the process / procedures used on this type of remediation.

Always be willing to learn; because the more you learn, the more you’ll realize what you don’t know. It is said that knowledge is power, with the caveat that it includes access to a reliable information sources. I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professional’s alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I hope these articles are informative. They are based on the current status of technical development as well as my experience with the products.

By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.

I would appreciate it if you would share these articles as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.

As always if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer; bear in mind the only stupid questions is the one that was unasked. Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated

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