How To Assess Your Car for Flood Damage

How To Assess Your Car for Flood Damage

It’s horrific enough when you observe it from afar, but flooding can be a devastating event both financially and emotionally. Given the terrible flooding that has taken place in Texas, we wanted to share our thoughts and prayers to all of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Please do what you can to help rebuild Houston by placing an order from our site this week. Every order exceeding $100 will yield a donation from us.

As we all should know by now, floods are a threat to any geographical areas that are prone to heavy rain. In this case, as we’ve seen from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Gulf Coast can get hit pretty hard by storms. It’s not just homes, wildlife, and people that are endangered by this weather. Vehicles that get caught in floods can undergo extensive damage as well. So while we prepare for the worst, we must consider all of our possessions and do what we can try to avoid irreplaceable damage.

Since we couldn’t find a ton of great resources online on how to protect your vehicle from flooding, we figured we’d construct something ourselves. Below, you will find an overview of what to do if your vehicle gets flooded, how to assess and stop further damage, and how to spot flood damage when you shop for a used car.

What to Check if Your Car is Flooded

As soon as the flooding has subsided and you are able to get to your vehicle safely, you should follow these important steps to assess the potential damage:

  1. 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.
  2. Measure the depth of the water that submerged your car.
    It is possible water did not enter any parts that are susceptible to damage.
  3. Determine how long your car was submerged.
    The shorter the time, the more salvageable any damaged parts may be.
  4. Be sure to note the type of water that flooded your vehicle.
    Fresh water causes less damage to your car than salt water.
  5. Check local weather reports for the temperature during and after flooding.
    Warmer temperatures may speed up corrosion, especially if your car was flooded with salt water.

What to Look For When Car Shopping

Cars that were damaged by flooding typically show up on used car lots shortly after the flooding event. In order to save yourself from purchasing a problematic vehicle, you should know how to detect the potential damages caused by flooding.

  1. Buy only from a reputable dealer.
    You’re more likely to get the truth about a vehicle’s past life from a reputable dealer.
  2. Ask the dealer if the vehicle has been damaged by flooding.
    Whatever the answer, get it in writing with the bill of sale if you buy the car.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 and “kick plates” and inside the rear compartment or trunk for a distinguishing water line to see how deep the car was submerged.
  6. Find out what kind of water damaged the vehicle.
    Ask if the car was flood damaged by salt or fresh water. Salt water is more corrosive and can cause more serious damage.
  7. Have a professional inspect the vehicle.
    Take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic to be checked for any signs of flood damage.

Spending the extra time to run through this assessment before you buy can save you a great deal of money in the long run.

We hope this information can help car owners and car shoppers in the future. If you have any questions about any of the details, please reach out and let us know.

Once again, Houston will be in our thoughts this week. Please do what you can to support them during this time of need.

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