How to Literally Sniff Out a Flood-damaged Vehicle

While we're all hoping for May flowers, April showers this year have brought something else: floods. Floods cause massive damage to property and a relatively less-publicized aspect of that damage are cars. Flooded cars may end up in the used car market and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Cars that have been submerged during floods will experience different amounts of damage based on the type of water and the length of time spent submerged. If you're looking into buying a car that has flood damage, or are in or near an area that has experienced flooding recently, theres a few things to look out for. 

Your best bet is going to a reputable dealer. A well-established dealership will not risk their reputation by lying about the condition of a car. Once youve found a car, use your senses to check for lingering effects of the flood. Water may have soaked deeply into the seats or carpet and the smell of mold or mildew is difficult to get rid of. Check the upholstery for water stains and the body for any signs of corrosion.

After youve checked the car out, take it for a test drive. The electrical systems can be hit the hardest by water damage. The longer a vehicle is submerged, the more likely it is to have something go wrong with the electronics. You may also notice accumulated water in the instruments, gauges and lights since water is very difficult to remove from these sealed areas of the car.

Now that you understand the financial risk in the car youre checking out, make sure youre paying for a car thats been through a flood and is well below market price. Its hard to tell how much money or work youll have to put into it in the future. Before purchasing, try and take the car to an expert with experience in water damage.

Flood damage doesnt necessarily make the car worthless. The price might be just right for a recent college grad looking for a temporary solution, or maybe youre looking for a cheap car to fix up yourself. Whatever the reasons may be, know what youre investing in and do your research before buying to ensure youre getting exactly what you want.

Useful Flood Links:

Is a flooded car totaled?

10-ways to spot flood damage

National Ocianic and Atmospheric Administration Flood page

Categories: Pre-Owned Inventory, News


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