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Hydrolocked my engine with dealer plates still on...

64272 Views 196 Replies 63 Participants Last post by  little_Jeep
So here's my story. I was out playing around in puddles...really nothing big at all. On my way out I made one final run, a little water splashed on the hook and the engine died. I still have the dealer plates on her and they towed me, after my friends got me out of the water, to the dealership. I've read some of the threads and seen some people say that it was covered by Jeep for the repairs. I have a video of my final death run and it shows I was not exceeding the limits of "the most capable offroad vehicle". She's a stock JK Rubi and can climb anything I point her at...water seems to be an issue. I would love to hear any thoughts on this, what it could be, best wat to prevent it (what is the best snorkel?) and if anyone has had this happen and had it covered by warranty I'd really love to hear from you so I can have a little ammo when I go in to fight them.
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To answer a few questions the water was probably not deeper than 19 inches, I didn't stop to measure after it happened. A 2wd F-150 went through just before I did and had no issues. As far as the dealer, they are sticking with the "It's not our fault" line. Yes, I did take a trail rated vehicle through a reasonable puddle at a reasonable speed, it is my fault for using an off-road vehicle...forgive me...off-road! I went all the way to the general manager showing the video and even they said it should be covered. But water in the engine, no matter what...is apparently a user error. I called my insurance company and without a blink they said they'd take care of me. They asked me to hold onto the video because it seems like something they would go after Jeep for and get me my deductible back. It's only a $100 out of pocket engine so I can't complain too much. Thank god for insurance. JK owners...buy a snorkel...even for splashes. That is going to be my first purchase as soon as I get her back. Any ideas on the "best" snorkel kit?
I have heard stories of a vacuum line coming undone and then when Jeep goes into water, vacuum line just sucks as much water as possible into the engine. However, in real World, I would say most damage is caused by people who do not understand the word "Hydro-loc"....Water crossing are high risk and if you don't know what you should do, stay out of water.
 

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ok, I watched the video a couple of times. It looks like the first puddle was the culprit (IMO). It looks like you hit it way too fast. So have you or the dealership had a chance to look into it? I would be really surprised if you actually did a large amount of internal damage. Like others mentioned, if it truly was "hydroLOCKED", you wouldn't even be able to try to crank it over. It is possible that you have a wet air filter that is choking out the air flow or that you got some sort of electrical component wet that shorted out. Possibly in or around your coil pack.

So have you heard anything from the dealership? Did you open up your air box to take a look inside?
Without knowing what damage was found, this is hard to say. It only takes a small amount of water to cause a rod, valve, or other internal part to bend. It doesn't need to break to cause the death of an engine. A little water can cause the piston to get ****eyed in the cylinder, causing a scar in the wall. Once this happens, the death of the engine is just a matter of time. Of course, the OP would be happy if his engine isn't damaged.....
 

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We were discussing this issue on another forum and wonder if the airbox placement on the JK is just enough forward from where the airbox is on a TJ that it causes a problem. Now keep in mind, none of us own a JK, so we are using a photo of the JK engine compartment for the basis of our discussion. Where is the opening in the JK airbox?
 

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pretty much right under the passenger hood latch. the stock opening is shaped to match the contour of the hood in that area.
So in your opinion, does its placement make getting water inside the airbox easier, harder, or about the same as a TJ? Is it possible that water is hitting fan, fan is tossing water onto bottomside of hood then running in the airbox, or do you feel problems are generally caused by other factors?
 

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Same thing happened to my friends Rubicon. This is what he did. Cleaned everything up then took it to a Jeep dealership after it rained and said he hit a puddle while driving. It ended up going through his car insurance and not the fault of Jeep or any warranty issue. His car insurance paid for a NEW engine without any questions and he only had to pay the deductible.
Is there another Jeep dealership in town?
I am lost by this line of thinking. If warranty doesn't cover it, warranty doesn't cover it... Dealer doesn't make the rules. Getting a second opinion on the damage is never a bad idea. However, if you are going to file an insurance claim, you can be fairly confident that the insurance company is not going to pay to replace/rebuild an engine until they know that is what is needed. The REAL question is, do you feel confident with this dealer's ability to correctly fix your Jeep as you are going to have to live with it and this dealer once the repairs are done.
 

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Yes, but the point is that his JK is not fine and that the dealer is refusing to warrant it.... Maybe they should watch their own promo vids...
Like I said, I'm watching this discussion on another forum as well. It does seem that I have heard more about Jeepers with hydro locked engines since the JK's have been out than I ever did in the past. The fact than a TJ or YJ owner did this or that, isn't an issue. We are talking about JK's. Why are so many JK's being hydro locked? It could be new inexperienced off-road drivers, it could be the differences in air box location and design, or it could be a combination of issues. One item discussed on the other forum is that the JK engine is not a Jeep engine. It is a mini van engine placed in a Jeep. I don't know much about the JK's. but I know that if I am trail guiding a group, I want to know more about these JK's and the hydro lock issue before doing a water crossing.
 

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wonder if something like this would of prevented this

Northridge4x4 Jeep Parts: Air Filters & Intake Systems

Just need a material that will let air through but prevent splashes from soaking the intake. Might not be a bad idea to wrap something like this over the intake opening where the water would most likely splash in.
Im gonna put a cheesecloth over my intake!
Now you guys are thinking....... Here is a question for all JK owners or others who feel that JK's may have a problem with design / location of the airbox.

**IF** this appears to be an airbox design/location issue, is there a cheap / easy modification (short of snorkel) that can be done to make JK less hydro-lock prone?
 

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wonder if something like this would of prevented this

Northridge4x4 Jeep Parts: Air Filters & Intake Systems

Just need a material that will let air through but prevent splashes from soaking the intake. Might not be a bad idea to wrap something like this over the intake opening where the water would most likely splash in.
This pre filter is designed for a cold air intake system, not the OEM airbox, right? However, it might be able to be modified to fit over the opening of the stock airbox on a JK.

On a TJ, YJ, etc., nothing short of a snorkel beats the factory airbox as far as overall protection of the intake system. However, this maybe old school thinking when it comes to a JK?
 

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Oh i agree... I would do my best to check everything out for signs of damage, maybe even drop the pan and see...

at the least, draining the oil will let you know if water actually got in the engine or not, right?

If the inside of the air box is dry and there is no signs of sand/mud remnants, then you have a pretty decent indication that water didn't get in through the intake.

I bet we are just going to find out that this was an electrical issue.
I get the feeling that the OP didn't look for or didn't know what to look for as far as signs of water ingestion. I could be wrong, but I suspect this to be the situation. I'm like you, I would love to have been able to take a look see under the hood of this Jeek. It sucks that it happened, but hopefully, this will all lead to helping other Jeepers prevent damaging their engine.
 

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Not to be argumentative but it's absolutely 100% true. I'm not arguing the semantics, I'm stating a fact.
It's all in the way the service manager decides to (or doesn't) write up the failure. I have personally had service managers tell me point blank that they will warrant items that did not fail under warranty. That's one reason I keep going back to the same VW dealer. The service manager is awesome. So far that has brought me back for three vehicles. Treating your customers well pays big dividends.
It has been years since I worked in a Dealership, but back in the day, when there was a large item such as an engine, transmission, axle, etc., the Dealership had to secure pre-authorization which meant that the District Manager would come to the Dealership and inspect the damage before giving the authorization for warranty to cover item. I can't imagine in these times that a automobile manufacturer would not review such claims with a very large magnifying glass.
 

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Here we go...so as far as updates go, I called the dealership (as I do every day to bug the hell out of him) to see when it will be repaired. They said the tore it down on Monday, started replacing parts on Tuesday and I'll get an update as to when it will be ready this afternoon.

The video of the jeep going through the pond a few posts back just gets to me...how can my splash equal a dead engine when his is fine? I don't know how that worked but I don't hold any ill feelings, I think it's cool as hell. Yeah, a Jeep isn't a boat but finding out just what it's capable of is so fun.

I've have spent a lot of time trying to find a better engine for it recently, I thought about going the Hemi route but with an install of the engine and new trans I was looking at about 17k...insurance is going to cover about 9k (roughly) so I let that idea pass. While I was talking with Matt at West Texas Off-road (highly recommended for the area BTW) he jumped on the phone to get information on how easily the Hemi install could be done. He called a friend over in California and they'd replaced 5 JK engines in the past month, 2 with Hemi's, all because of the same exact issue.

When the dealer found her they told me she had leather, when she was delivered she had no leather so the dealer may keep her a little bit longer while I drive their truck around the city to put the leather in. I also have headrest dvd players to install and a push button ignition from Stardrive so it may be a week even after I get her back before she hits the streets...and yes...the mud.

I will claim stupidity and ignorance in checking the air intake box for moisture. After seeing videos like the one mentioned above it was the last thing on my mind, it shouldn't be a problem right? Obviously not.
Your update confirms that there was internal damage to your engine and that we can assume it was from water indigestion.

I have been reading a lot about the Hydrolock situation as it relates to the JK's and it seems that some people have done some wild water crossing and never had an issue while others have done minor stuff and had major ill effects. I have heard people say that if you drive thru water just right with a JK, the edge? of the uderside of hood will act as a funnel and direct water into the airbox. I have no idea how much truth there is to any of this, but after reading this post and seeing your video, if I was a JK owner, a snorkel would be on my Jeep before I got with in a 1,000 foot of water. BTW, a Hemi isn't going to like water any better than your OEM engine so changing engines isn't going to prevent future problems unless you also change the style and location of the airbox.
 

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The engine didn't turn over...I'm not sure exactly what it was but the best way I can explain it is it "whirred". All the electronics were working and it wanted to start but there was nothing catching. Again, I completely agree that something isn't right.
There is internal damage in the engine,,,, from ?? Water ingestion......

Go to Dealer, take pics of damage, or ask for the damaged parts.
 

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Yes...they are saying from water ingestion. Insurance guy agreed and it is being filed under a flood claim. I will make sure that I get the parts that they take out. I was thinking of that as I was posting the last time...thanks for the tip though.
JKtester, I'm on your side... the Jeep died in water, the Dealer says water ingestion, the insurance company agrees, there is internal damage to the engine, yet people are still questioning if there was water that go into the engine. I suspect that even photos of the damaged parts will not stop people from questioning "did water actually get in the engine?"
 

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It makes a difference because if you had water sucked into the engine through the top of the engine, then it would actually lock the pistons up and keep them from moving. i.e. your engine wouldn't be able to try to crank hence the 'lock' portion of hydrolock. It literally locks up the engine.

Dealerships and insurance companies can/will generalized damage in order get paperwork processed.
Engine would only be locked until a hole was punched in a piston, or a connecting rod broke, or the water had time to drain into the pan, etc..

Generalize? Something caused internal damage to the engine. The dealer and the insurance company have the Jeep, they have seen the broken parts, and I would assume they know the signs of water ingestion to look for. JKtester isn't much help in providing information because he is not mechanically inclined and as far as I know, has not personally seen the damaged parts or the signs that led to the conclusion of water ingestion.
 

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You are right in every case, I am not the most mechanically inclined. I do, however, know exactly how an engine works and understand the inner workings well. When I say I'm not mechanically inclined I could not jump under the hood and tell you what was broken unless it was actually something broken, now doing engine work myself...if I had the tools and the time, it wouldn't be a problem. I have not seen the damaged parts but will be bringing them home with me when I pick her up. Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday. Once I get them home I will be able to tell a little more about what happened. I did not get a clear understanding from my service advisor as he was not the mechanic and he was basically reporting to me what the mechanic reported to him. I will gladly post a list of everything that they replaced as well as pictures of the damaged parts.
I am sorry that I said you were not mechanically inclined. I hope that I didn't offend you. That was not my desire. Photos of the damaged parts and possibly a copy of the work order and parts that were replaced would provide a lot of information. I just find it odd that people are still debating your engine problems being nothing more than a wet electrical component. We are so far past this point it isn't funny.

Posting stories about I did this or that in my CJ, YJ,TJ,XJ, or whatever non JK there is, isn't a help. It seems that JK's have a real issue with water ingestion. Is it cause by inexperienced driver?, or is there an issue with the design or location of the airbox?, or maybe a vacuum line disconnected that sucks water into the engine? Maybe it's a combination of these issues. Yet, there are Jeepers who have been in far deeper water than JKtester did and they didn't have any water ingestion in their engine. Whatever is causing the issue, a snorkel appears to be a wise investment if you own a JK.
 
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