Focusing On Clean Living

How To Avoid Buying A Flood Damaged Vehicle

According to, all fifty states have had floods or flash floods in the past five years. Knowing how to identify flood damage on any vehicle is essential when buying a used car. Nothing is more lethal to a car's integrity than untreated water damage. There are certain precautions you can take to avoid buying a flood damaged vehicle. When in doubt, ask to take the vehicle on a test drive. You'll be able to tell immediately if something isn't quite right.

Know the Signs of Interior Damage

One of the signs of flood damage inside a vehicle can be found in the carpeting. If the seller knows the vehicle has water damage, they might try to cover it with floor mats. Lift the mats and, if possible, the edge of the carpeting to see if there is dampness or mud. Look for signs of mildew under the carpeting as well.

Check the spare tire compartment in the vehicle's trunk for any mud or water residue left from a flood. Another sign inside the vehicle can be found by turning the car on to check the speakers in the doors. Since these speakers are lower to the floor, they are often the first to be damaged in a flood. Lastly, look for any rust on exposed metal parts. Flooding will cause screws and bolts to rust, especially in the dashboard area.

Know the Signs Under the Hood

Although most of the damage can be found inside the vehicle, some water damage is evident under the hood. When looking for flood damage, check for debris and mud in odd places.

Pay special attention to the areas closely surrounding the engine. You should also check the engine oil's color. If the vehicle went through any kind of flooding, the oil will have most likely mixed with water and would, therefore, become cloudy and thick. You can also check other fluids like the transmission fluid for signs of flood damage. The last thing to check under the hood of your car is the paper air filter.

What to do if You Purchase a Flooded Car

Purchasing a flooded vehicle can be expensive to repair as you have to deal with the flood clean up on your own. Fortunately, you may be protected by the used car lemon law. Due to the high volume of people complaining about being duped into purchasing a used vehicle the following states have passed the used lemon car law to protect vehicle buyers:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York

If you do not live in one of these states, it is still a good idea to look into local laws as a lot of states do have some kind of law in place to protect owners from being duped into buying a water damaged vehicle.

The best way to ensure a quality vehicle is to purchase from a trusted seller, but these tips will help you single out flood damaged vehicles.