5 Ways to Spot a Flood Damaged Car

Akash Nayee

written Feb 06, 2018


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In recent years hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey, and Sandy have caused catastrophic damage. This impacted not only homes, businesses, but also to cars and trucks. According to carfax, nearly 600,000 vehicles were damaged during hurricane Katrina. Once a car is submerged in deep waters this is often classified as “totaled”. However, it is not illegal to purchase or sell a flood-damaged vehicle, as long as both parties have knowledge of this. The golden rule still stands - Buyer beware. Many used car dealers and private sellers will not be upfront about flood-damaged cars or trucks. Leaving you with costly unexpected repairs. Unfortunately, identifying a car that has been damaged by flooding can be difficult to spot. Here are few tips to determine if your car was flood-damaged. 

1. Avoid Sketchy Dealerships and Postings

Check dealerships yelp and google reviews. Chances are you’ll find people expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. You want to check reviews for terms such as lemons or dishonest. Once you have found the right dealership, always ask to see the following information: Carfax, VIN number, and title. This information can provide details on the car’s history and any damage the car has faced including flood damage. If there is any hesitation or run around on obtaining this information, avoid the car.

 

2. Trust Your Nose

One of the most obvious ways to determine if a car or truck has suffered from flood damage is sniffing inside of the vehicle. Just like a smoker’s car, you’ll quickly be to smell mold or mildew odor. Be aware of dealers trying to mask smells with overbearing car fresheners.

 

3. Be Hands On

Another essential tool to determine if a car has faced flood damage is your hands. You want to feel around for wet spots in the carpet and seats. You may also feel around for any rust, mold, and mildew. These are all tell-tale signs the car may have been flood-damaged.

  

4. Look closely

Using only your naked eye can be a difficult task to determine flood damage. However, if you look close enough you’ll find some important clues. Look for any rust or corrosion on the interior and exterior of the car or truck. If you notice any rust on door hinges, screws, and springs - chances are the car was submerged under water. Next to want to examine the exterior paint, again look for rust, corrosion, and bubbles. A common trick that car dealerships use to mask flood damage is replacing carpet mats and cleaning upholstery. If you notice the car is a few years old but the carpets and upholstery look brand new, be aware. Some other areas you want to examine are headlights and taillights; if you notice they are foggy this means there was water build up inside. Lastly, Other common areas you want to check is under the dashboard, trunk, under the spare wheel, and underneath seats.

 

5. Better safe than sorry

Once you have conducted your own examination, however, you’re still unsure...it's best to call in an expert!  A hundred dollars now can save you thousands in the future. An expert will look at your potential car or truck from a professional’s perspective. They will look for signs of flood damage on the engine, underneath the vehicle, wiring, pumps, other mechanisms.

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