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Would You Buy a Tesla Model X Rescued From the Bottom of the Danube River for $24,000?

Electric vehicles don't have problems when they drive through water, although spending more time submerged can damage them. One Tesla Model X owner found a buyer for their car that spent several days underwater after sinking into the Danube River in Budapest.
A Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River 6 photos
Photo: Pest Megyei Kutató-Ment? Szolgálat via Facebook | Edited
A Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River in HungaryA Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River in HungaryA Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River in HungaryA Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River in HungaryA Tesla Model X sunk into the Danube River in Hungary
Cars don't mix well with water, and this is especially true for those with combustion engines. Since combustion engines need air to breathe, water can "choke" them. More than this, because the water cannot compress as gases do, it can cause the pistons to block. The phenomenon is known as "hydro-lock" and can destroy a car's engine when water is drawn into the cylinders. ICE vehicles equipped for water crossings use a snorkel to draw air from above the cabin to get around it.

Electric vehicles don't have this problem, as they don't need air to function. We've seen videos of electric vehicles completely submerged that were working normally. But that doesn't mean water doesn't affect them. Electricity and water are not a good combination, especially as water can corrode metal parts and affect electric circuits. Li-Ion batteries are sealed, but this doesn't mean they can withstand high pressures when entering flooded areas.

Tesla's battery pack is rated to withstand 30 minutes of being completely submerged. However, if the water is deep, thus increasing the pressure, it can get inside the battery pack and cause a short circuit or even a fire. This has been a common occurrence in areas affected by floods during hurricanes. After Hurricane Ian, many electric vehicles burst into flames because of water ingress.

Still, people are willing to buy cars affected by flooding, probably because they are cheaper. This is a booming business, judging by the number of flooded vehicles sold at salvage auctions. Some people are not afraid to buy flooded EVs, despite knowing that battery packs can die or even explode at some point. This was the case with a Tesla Model X that sank in the Danube River last September. The SUV spent four days underwater before being extracted by the rescue teams. Still, it found a buyer the next day, willing to pay the €22,000/$24,000 price.

If you're wondering how this happened, we've been told that the car rolled off a ferry dock near Budapest (Hungary). Although the incident occurred seven months ago, we've only heard about it after images were shared on Reddit. The only way the car could slide off the ramp would be if the driver forgot to put it in Park when getting off. Tesla automatically engages park brakes when the vehicle is in Park and the driver opens the door.

The owner contacted the authorities, but the Model X was already submerged by the time the rescue teams arrived. It took days before they located and extracted the SUV. Our information about the incident indicates that the owner paid for the rescue operation. It certainly was a significant loss, added to the price of the car. Still, they've been able to recoup some of the loss. According to the post on Reddit, the salvaged car sold for €22,000, despite being affected by water.

We have no idea why anyone would pay such a steep price for an electric vehicle that spent time underwater. A Model X in pristine condition would indeed be several times more expensive, but the risk with a flooded car is just too high. Insurance companies total electric vehicles even for minimal damage to the battery pack. Some say the battery pack would be worth the money, but the battery is more likely to be affected by water than the rest of the car. What do you think? Was it worth buying it?

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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