Port St. Lucie mechanic up to his neck with vehicles damaged by flood

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Sean Moriarty is up to his neck with waterlogged vehicles. 

"See all the water on the end of the plugs?" he asks, as he holds out a wet spark plug.

The roving mechanic and owner of On-Site Mobile Auto Service in Port St. Lucie is trying to start a Honda engine in a Port St. Lucie apartment complex.

"She may have damaged the engine to the point where it's no good," he said.

The car took in a lot of water navigating through Isaac's storm.

"It smells like a rotten sock," said Moriarty.

He removes the spark plugs, puts a direct breaker bar on the crank and says he should be able to turn the engine very easily.

"Ah geez. Oh, she's no good. Nope. Engine's done," said Moriarty. It won't turn.

According to the roving mechanic and his team, the water was just too much for the engine.

"They're like a vacuum cleaner," he added.

Moriarty says the engine has seized, and the pistons are frozen. It doesn't take long, he says, for an aluminum engine to rust.

"It's not a good problem, but it is what it is," Moriarty said.

He estimated the repairs on the Honda Accord will end up costing somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000.

Moriarty and his team worked on seven flooded vehicles yesterday, and they have at least seven more to go.

"So, that's the trick," said Moriarty. "If the streets get flooded, go out and use a truck. If you don't have a truck, get a ride."

The Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau also has advice so you're not tricked. BBB spokesman Mike Galvin says when dealing with a flooded vehicle, pay later rather than sooner.

"No upfront payments. That's a red flag right up front," he advised.

Moriarty does charge a $60 fee to come out and assess vehicles, but he lets the driver decide where to go from there.

When choosing a mechanic, the BBB also recommends you do your research, avoid high-pressure sales tactics and get everything in writing.

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