Here's How Hard It Is to Start a Car That's Been Underwater for Six Months

Screenshot: Garage 54 ENG (YouTube)

In the fall of 2017, Vlad from the YouTube channel Garage 54 ENG left a Lada Samara for dead at the bottom of a lake. Then, early this year, he recovered it and tried to get it running. Here’s how that worked out.

You may recall that this very YouTube team buried three cars for a year, then dug them up and tried getting them running. That was a tall order, considering how much water got into the vehicles’ engines, so you can imagine that the odds were stacked against this poor, red Lada Samara, which spent six months at the bottom of a lake.

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Here’s the video showing Vlad and his team draining the car’s coolant, oil, and fuel, and then dropping the poor Russian sedan into the shallow end of a lake:

Throwing the car—which had a ruined transmission but which otherwise ran okay—into shallow water ended up ruining the car’s roof due to the pressure from the ice, as you’ll see in this video in which Vlad’s team recovers the car and tries to get it running:

Incredibly, after yanking the filthy, dripping junker from the lake, Vlad zips out the spark plugs, throws in a new battery, and gets the engine to turn over and shoot the lake water from its cylinders. With some fresh oil, a bit of starting fluid, and some gasoline, as well as a bit of compressed air to dry out some of the electrical connections, he actually gets the machine to run.

He doesn’t drive it, presumably because the transmission was junk even before it went into the lake, but that doesn’t detract from the impressive fact that his Lada actually fired up after a full six months underwater.

As the British car show Fifth Gear taught us few years ago, it’s not a huge deal to fire up a car whose engine has taken in water, so long as you haven’t bent the rods. But to do so after six months with such relative ease? I kind of want a Lada Samara now, and that’s not somethig I ever thought I’d say.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio