• Karolena Serratos

Tips on How to Spot Flood Damaged Vehicles


Houston has experienced three floods already this year and we are just at the beginning of Hurricane season. Many are worried these newly made submarines will be making their way back to the used car market very soon. Purchasing a flood car does not have to be gamble, especially if fixed properly. In many cases the after vehicle is must better than the shape it was in before becoming a mini Noah’s Arch. However, if it is not listed on the history report or being disclosed then there is some reason cause for concern.

Below is a list we have complied at Professional Auto Care to help consumers spot flood cars right off the bat.

  1. Smell. The nose knows! Get close to the carpet and seats to try to get a whiff of a damp or moldy smell.

  2. Corrosion. Take a close look at the seat tracks and other metal components to see if there is any sign of rust or corrosion, which can be an indication at one point those components were submerged.

  3. Check Fabrics. As gross as it sounds, take a close look at the fabrics to see if there is any mold or mismatch spots. Some people will spot clean seats and carpets so you can see an obvious ‘bleach’ marking.

  4. Check Electronics. When you are taking the car you are thinking about purchasing out for a test drive, be sure check all the electronics such as, the air conditioning, radio, power seats, etc. Sometimes the air conditioning can become damaged after a flood so even if it is winter, still turn on the air conditioning to ensure it is in working order. See if you can hear a static type some coming from the speakers and try out the power seats.

  5. Air Filter Element. You would hope someone would at least change his or her air filter. But just in case, pull out the air filter and see if there are any water marks on it as if they just let it ‘dry out’ before reinstalling it.

  6. Visible Water Lines. Open the hood and inspect the firewall for visible water lines. You can also at times spot them inside the doors.

  7. Debris. When a flood occurs, it generally leaves debris such as leaves, dirt, etc. If the vehicle has these items in excess especially in crevasse it could be a sign.

  8. Check Fluids. It is a general rule regardless to check fluids when inspecting a used car. It is particularly important when dealing with flood cars as vehicle systems are designed to be water resistant, but not subversive. Check for any discoloration or even overfilling.

  9. Last, HIRE AN EXPERT! It is always a good idea to have an ASE Certified Technician inspect a vehicle you are planning on purchasing. Plus in most cases, they can provide you some negotiation pieces.

We highly recommend everyone to perform these tips in the coming months when searching for a used car and really almost anytime after a major water disaster to avoid inheriting some else’s problem.


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