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Dodge Repair/05 dodge: in flood, engine stalled, no starter


QUESTION: Ok where to start. I have a 2005 dodge magnum rt with a 5.7 hemi. Yesterday I had a bad situation and ended up driving through a flooded area and then the car just shut off. The water got up to the beginning of the door but did not get into the car door the battery is fine but the engine won't star. When I tried to start it it just clicks one time. I opened the air intake to find the filter soaked. There was also oil dripping from the car... I had 6 people help push my car out of the water into a dry area and its finally back home... This is my only way of transportation and I really need some advice.

If you hear a loud click sound that is associated with the starter motor's operating switch which shows it is getting voltage, but can't turn the engine. It suggests that either the starter motor proper is wet and therefor not making good electrical contact internally or that the battery + wire (fat red) to the starter motor is somehow not making good electrical contact eiter at the battery clamp or at the starter motor (assuming that the battery is charged and didn't take water inside of it), or that the engine is "locked-up" with water inside of one or more of the cylinder chambers.
So verify that the battery clamp is tight, but be careful not to touch any metal tool that you have on the clamp to any other piece of nearby metal (or better, remove the - post clamp first, then check the + clamp, then replace the - clamp). If the battery and the wire clamps are OK, then my inclination would be try to dry out the starter motor (where you hear the click coming from) with an external heat source such as a hair dryer. Even before that is the following:
The other possibility, since the air intake got wet, is that water was sucked into the engine intake manifold and then into one or more of the engine's 8 cylinder chambers. That would cause a water 'lock-up' that in fact prevents the engine from rotating. To fix that you would want to remove each of the spark plugs (one at a time) and then try the starter motor after each plug is removed which will allow the engine to rotate and blow the water out of the affected chambers. Once the engine is rotating again you can put the spark plugs back in and see if it will start.
You could check for the existence of such a lock-up situation by trying to turn the engine by hand using a socket and handle on the bolt of the crankshaft pulley to rotate the crankshaft clockwise. If it won't rotate then indeed that is the problem that you need to correct first by removing the spark plugs as I described.
As to the oil dripping, can you tell me how much and from where it seems to be coming?
Please read the PS (below) and respond to it.

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QUESTION: Well I had it pulled back to my drive way and there way a trail of puddles of oil about a foot around but it was still raining outside so it probably spread it to.make it look like more than it really was.. I couldn't see where the oil was coming from though because the car was still drippng wet. I just took at look at it a lil while ago and I didn't see anything leaking. I had the person who moved it driveway check the oil and he said there was no water in it and it still had oil in it.

OK, I would have a person with a set of sockets and a handle for that to try and rotate the engine by hand as I described, and if it won't turn he has to remove the spark plugs one at a time and keep trying until it will rotate and then put the spark plugs back in after trying the starter motor to help blow residual water out of the cylinders. Once you know the engine will rotate then you can try the starter again to see if it will now turn over the engine or not, and if so will it start. If not, let the starter motor dry out with the help of a fan or a blower of some sort.
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QUESTION: Hey Roland
So we tried ur suggestions and no luck. We took out the plugs and tried to start it and this time it made numerous clicking sounds kinda like grinding sounds. 3 of the cylinders were full of water and he said he thinks the starter isn't kicking in either. He's going to try to manually do it but from what we saw we think the engine is locked up or some reason. Anything else u think I should try?
Thank you for your responses

Hi Dee,
I am glad that removing the spark plugs reduced/eliminated? the lock up and I assume that the crank shaft now turns freely when the plugs were out (correct?) and now the plugs are put back in place but the starter motor still won't turn over the engine. If it will not turn over, then the starter is probably also not functioning well due to water inside of it so it may be helped by removing and draining that out and then heating it up at a low temperature in the oven overnight, for example. See if that works and if not then trade it in for a rebuilt starter motor.
Thanks for the rating and nomination. You are entitled to do that again for this answer if you would like.

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Roland Finston


Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

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I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

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Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

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