How To Check For Flood Damage In A Used Car

blue car trapped on flooded street

Signs of Flood Damage in a Car

Finding the right used car takes a lot of time and consideration. In particular, flood damage can decrease the value and lifetime of a vehicle. Not every car dealer will be as clear about flood damage and the costly future ahead for the car they are looking to sell. Cars with severe flood damage are dangerous to drive and can result in unforeseen accidents. Here are some suggestions on how to spot flood damage and avoid purchasing an unreliable used car in dangerous condition.      

Unusual Odors are the First Sign

Don’t be fooled by a car dealer claiming that a moldy or musty odor is normal or can be detailed out. This moldy or musty smell usually means that there has been mildew buildup and exposure to water for a long period of time. Also, be aware of any particularly strong cleaning supplies smell or air freshener that may be used to cover up the flood damage signs. A good test is to run the air conditioner and see if any moldy smells come from the vents.

Examine the Interior

Carpeting and upholstery often become discolored in flood damaged vehicles. Standing water tends to leave large stains that are difficult to remove. While it may appear that the stains have only damaged the appearance of the carpeting, buyers should be aware that this is a sign of major flood damage. The seller may try to cover up the upholstery when showing the car. Don’t be afraid to run your hands along the carpet to check for any moisture. Be aware that a car that has been involved in a flood could have a noticeable water line in the engine compartment or trunk. Be sure to investigate the entire interior before purchasing a used vehicle.

Inspect the Exterior for Damage

When examining the exterior of a used car, be sure to look at the lights. When a car experiences flood damage, the headlights and taillights can retain some fogging inside, this would ultimately be dangerous when driving the vehicle. Also, water naturally collects in overhangs in the wheel well and might remain damp or even muddy from flood damage.

Evidence of rust or flaking metal in the undercarriage is not normal for late-model vehicles. This is a sign of corrosion and will continue to eat away at the car long after it is dry. As a buyer of a used car, it is important to be mindful of damages to the exterior.

Beware of Dirt and Debris

A used car that has been involved in a flood, or has been in standing water for an extended period of time, could still carry a lot of debris. Even when the car is removed from the water, it can be difficult to clean out all of the grass, dirt and sand from the vehicle. Most often the debris will settle in the glove compartment, engine crevices, under the dashboard, around wiring and below the seats. The car was likely involved in some kind of flood damage if you find debris in these areas.

Buy Smart and Avoid Flood Damage

Sellers are required to disclose the entire history of any used vehicle. Cars that have experienced flood damage or have been salvaged are going to cost the buyer much more in the long run. When you are looking for a previously owned vehicle, be sure to do your own research and investigation into the entire car history. Deals may be persuasive, but they can be deceiving to cover up any previous damage that might dissuade the buyer.

Be an educated shopper when you buy your next car.  Then, call our team to help you get a free quote and auto insurance coverage that fits your situation.