(LAS VEGAS CBS KXNT)  Hundreds of cars drove on flooded roads during Wednesday’s record rain storm in the Las Vegas Valley.  Some drivers might have wondered if they were causing engine damage.

If the water is deep enough, it does enter the engine, and can do irrepairable damage, says Steve Bryant, Service Director at Gaudin Ford told KXNT.

Water can be sucked up into the airbox from the intake under the car, and then travel into the engine’s  cylinders.  When water fills the cylinders it displaces the pistons, and the connecting rods get bent because they have no place to go,  Bryant said.

Once this occurs, there’s not much mystery about it.  The engine shuts down, the car has to be towed, and the engine replaced. The tab is generally between three and five thousand dollars.  Insurance usually covers it, Bryant said.

Gaudin Ford’s service department usually gets at least a call or two about this kind of damage after a storm that produces flood water, Bryant told KXNT.

How deep is too deep to drive through?  Depends on your car.

“Three feet if you’re in an SUV.  A foot and a half if you’re in a low-profile sports car,” Bryant told KXNT.

Best practice when in doubt —  turn around and find another route.  If there is no alternate route, turn around and go back where you came from.

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