A flood damaged car can undergo extensive damage. Find out what to do if your damaged car was in a flood how to assess and stop further loss, and how to spot flood damage when you shop for a car. Follow these essential steps to inspect your vehicle and assess flood damage.
Check your oil indicator, a reading of an oil level that’s too high may tell you there’s water in the engine. Do not start or run your car – it could cause severe damage. Measure the depth of the water that submerged your vehicle. It is possible water did not enter any parts that are susceptible to damage. Determine how long your car was under water. The shorter the time, the more salvageable any damaged parts may be. Be sure to note the type of water that flooded your vehicle. Fresh water causes less damage to your car than salt water. Check local weather reports for the temperature during and after flooding. Warmer temperatures may speed up corrosion, especially if your vehicle flooded with salt water.
A Flood Damaged Car
What to Look For When Car Shopping for a flood damaged car. Learn how to spot flood-damaged vehicles before purchasing a used car. Get the truth about a vehicle’s past life. Ask the dealer if the vehicle has had flood damaged. Whatever the answer, get it in writing with the bill of sale if you buy the car.
The Car’s History Report
Ask to see the title if you think the vehicle was damaged in a flood and the title is not stamped “Salvage” or “Flood,” ask for the car’s history to see if it came from a state that recently experienced flooding. Find out how extensive the flood damage was. In some cases, the damage cars sustain in a flood is serious, but if a car has sustained only minor flood damage, it can still be a good used car.
Look for obvious signs of damage. Check for dried mud or rust in the glove compartment, trunk, under the dashboard, seats, and carpet. Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery or carpeting. If the carpeting fits loosely or the color does not match the interior, it may have been replaced because the vehicle was flood damaged. Check the instrument panel to see that all gauges are working properly. Check on the outside of the engine, inside garnish moldings, kick plates and inside the rear compartment or trunk for a distinguishing water line to see how deep the car was submerged. Find out what kind of water damaged the vehicle. Ask if the car was flood damaged by salt or freshwater. Salt water is more corrosive and can cause more serious damage.
Take A Good Look
Don’t forget to check the trunk. Take out the spare tire and check for moisture or sitting water. While there is a slight chance of a bad seal around the trunk lid, water or debris found in the trunk area is a good sign that your potential purchase went for a swim.
As you are working through the car looking for moisture, check for signs of corrosion. Unfinished metal surfaces, like the springs hidden underneath many vehicle seats, will corrode even if the car was only underwater for a short time. Look at the ends of exposed bolts. Are they shiny and new or do they look like they have been sitting outside? Door jambs and any other areas where water can sit will be especially telling and should be taken seriously. Even if the car wasn’t in a flood you could be looking at extensive rust damage that may cause a vehicle to fail inspections and be dangerous to drive. Take a good look at the vehicle’s instrument panel. Is there trapped moisture behind the plastic lenses? Check the glove box for moisture and debris. Grab a flashlight and look in the console and under the dashboard.
The Damaged Car Smells Great
Take a few minutes and inspect the paper air filter. Most cars only require a few clips to be undone or some screws to be removed to expose the filter. Once the paper is wet it never looks the same. Think of it as that little strip in your cellphone that turns pink if you drop it in a puddle. If the filter shows signs of water stains you will want to keep looking for another vehicle. Unfortunately, water can also be your vehicles worst enemy. Damaging flood waters can render a valuable automobile worthless in a matter of seconds. During your inspection look for previous water damage evidence by blotchy water stains. Just remember, stains do not necessarily mean the vehicle has been in a flood. Any parent of a toddler can attest to that.
The car smells great, seems rust free and is dry as a bone, now what? While there is a good chance that the vehicle is just fine, don’t rule out the chance that parts or all of the carpet or interior have been replaced to hide damage. If a section of the carpet or upholstery is a different shade or has less wear than the surrounding fabric, there may be a reasonable explanation, but it may be the sign of undisclosed refurbishment. Once again, cars get dirty and worn, may replace worn carpet or seating surfaces and disclose it quickly and earnestly. What we are looking for is inconsistencies and exposing potential secrets or unknowns.
Take The Vehicle To A Trusted Mechanic
Have a professional inspect the vehicle. Take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic to be checked for any signs of flood damage. Spending a little extra time to thoroughly check out a used car before you buy it can save you a great deal of money in the long run. Shopping for a new car involves a lot of research and negotiation. Following this new car buying tips before you buy can save you time and a few dollars.
Then, do some homework on those cars. Use online sources and consumer and automotive publications. Negotiate separately Consider questions about financing, service contracts, trade-ins or other extras after you have settled on a price. If you’re uncomfortable negotiating, consider a car buying service. Negotiating is an understood factor in buying a car. If you’re unsure of your negotiating skills, a car-buying service can step in and work on your behalf. Shop around for financing, and compare the offers. Get a dealer quote in writing. Shop at more than one dealership. Check out several dealerships and their reliability.
The same basic rules work when buying from an individual. Once again, obtaining a vehicle history report goes a long way in confirming that the car you are purchasing is clear of flood damage. Inspecting the title can also help. Check for a stamp that reads flood or salvage
More often than not, a flood damaged car is reported to insurance agencies, through an assessment process, the buyer receives compensation to cover losses. While many flooded vehicles are sent to the auto recycler for dismantling. Other vehicles are branded by state agencies as flood-damaged and a salvage title is assigned. Once identified, flood-damaged cars can once again enter the sales market, showing up on dealer lots or in driveways with for sale signs on the windshield. The truth is, refurbished flood-damaged vehicles can be difficult to identify apart from the trusted documentation.
While the majority of the refurbished vehicles are sold with full disclosure of the damage, there are also unscrupulous companies and individuals who will attempt to profit at the expense of others by withholding information or intentionally hiding a car’s history through a process called title washing. Whether they simply leave information off the table or deliberately work to erase the car’s history, they will attempt to sell the vehicle as if it never went for a damaging swim. Unfortunately, water can also be your vehicles worst enemy.
Damaging flood waters can render a valuable automobile worthless in a matter of seconds. Many of the electronic components are near the floorboard and need to be inspected. Make sure they’re not corroded from the flood water. Replacements can be pricey.. Buyers should be especially careful about flood damaged car sales in the immediate aftermath of a flood. It takes a couple of weeks or so for insurance information to show up on those reports. If a person sold the car themselves, and it’s sold on the street, an insurance claim is never made. As always it’s up to us the consumer to be alert and aware when shopping for a vehicle.