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How To Tell If A Car Has Been In A Flood: Signs of a Flood Damaged Car

How To Tell If A Car Has Been In A Flood: Signs of a Flood Damaged Car

If you live in a coastal state or near a river, then your car insurance provider may offer flood insurance for your vehicle since flood and flood damage are to be expected due to the area’s climate.

Insurance companies might offer such coverage for your home or cars if the local beach or river branch floods over into town during a storm causing flood damage to cars and buildings.

How Serious Are Storms That Cause Flooding?

The common cause of the flooding is a tropical storm or a hurricane. This season alone saw 21 storms like Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Elsa, to name a few. Ida was the biggest hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana since Katarina, with repairs still ongoing.

During storms like these, hundreds of thousands of cars are damaged by the flood or totaled. Homes and businesses also report the same figures in terms of flood damage. Water and flood damage to cars may be long-lasting, so it helps to get your car checked out after a flood, even if no flood damage is obvious.

How To Tell If A Car Has Been In A Flood?

If you’re shopping for used cars, SUVs, minivans, or pickup trucks, there are some telltale signs you should be aware of to tell if the car or truck has flood damage. These flood damages have long-lasting effects on your vehicle that may be detrimental to your car’s performance and safety.

A car with flood damage has:

  • Odor that suggests mold - Mold, and mildew buildups have a strong scent that can either be noticed in the interior of the car itself or through the air conditioner of the vehicle. Ask the seller or owner of the used car if they sprayed air freshener to try to cover it up if you smell such.
  • Dirty carpets and floor - Always check for discolored, wet, and moldy floor carpets in the used car. You can lift it up to see the extent of the damage on the auto, such as rust and water decay. The vehicle upholstery should also be in good condition with no moisture and mold.
  • Dirty upholstery - While on the topic of upholstery, you should be aware of any blotches, new fabrics in an old car, or any stains. If the vehicle upholstery is noticeably different or brand new, then there’s the chance the original car owner had it replaced.
  • Rust - Rust on a car can be detected by paint bubbles, on screws and door hinges, and on springs below the seats of the vehicle.
  • Odd engine oil level - A high engine oil reading may indicate that there is water in there too. There really shouldn’t be.
  • Exterior moisture - Moisture can build up on the outside of the car as well. Fogged-up lights and water lines are some things to look out for in this regard.
  • Interior moisture - Inversely, a moisture build-up inside the car is indicated by fogged-up mirrors and a dashboard.
  • Dirt accumulation - Filth can build up over time in such areas as the car seat tracks and even the glove box. If there is dirt in the inner workings of the vehicle, you may have to get it looked at by a mechanic.

What Else You Can do to Avoid a Car With Flood Damage?

Outside of inspecting the vehicle, you are allowed to ask the original owner questions, so you should take advantage of that.

Here’s what you should ask of the vehicle owner:

  • Ask directly about any flood damage - If you can’t get an answer to this question, then that tells you all you need to know.
  • Request the vehicle title - A car’s title will mention if it was damaged at all. Titles to look out for are salvaged titles and rebuilt titles as this suggests the car was majorly damaged and is either in need of repairs or received extensive ones.
  • Inquire about the vehicle’s asking price and their reasoning - Some people just want to get rid of their faulty car. They do this with a low asking price, so the vehicle is out of their hair quicker.

Shopping for affordable car insurance? Insurance Navy can help you find the best car insurance coverage at the most budget-friendly price in just a few minutes.

Get a cheap car insurance quote online today via our website or mobile app. Looking to speak to a representative? Give us a call at 888-949-6289 or stop in at one of our many locations.

Updated: December 2023

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