How To Avoid Buying A “Flood Car”

After hurricane season, there are inevitably thousands of flood-damaged cars for sale. Here’s how to sniff them out and avoid purchasing one.

With approximately 1-million vehicles in Texas, alone, damaged or destroyed by Harvey’s disastrous floodwaters — and Irma rolling toward Florida — analysts are asking Americans to take heed and check vehicle history reports and inspect used vehicles meticulously before making a purchase.


Carfax, the leading vehicle history report company, claims around half of all cars damaged by flood and storms actually return to the road.

That means that hundreds of thousands of Americans are at risk of buying what the auto industry refers to as “flood cars,” which became a common issue after Hurricane Katrina and many other storms.

“They’re getting duped out of thousands of dollars with a vehicle that’s literally rotting from the inside out,” Carfax spokesman Christopher Basso stated.

According to CarFax estimates, there are approximately 325,000 flood-damaged cars currently on the road from previous storms, across all states.

Three common ways this happens:

  • Auctions
  • For Sale By Owner
  • Bogus Or Forged Documentation

Some tips on how to steer clear of these vehicles:

  • Vehicle history report
  • Be wary of “musty” or “moldy” smells from within the car
  • Have you mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchase
  • Check for signs of mold or mud under the carpet
  • If upholstery has been completely redone, walk away
  • Check for electrical issues (windows, door-locks, etc)
  • Check for water in headlights and taillights
  • Look for rust and / or corrosion around and under the vehicle


Source: USA Today


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