Floods cause millions of dollars in damage across the U.S. every year and flooding only seems to be growing worse. Flood-damaged cars are unpredictable, failing right at the most inopportune times. They also have a negative effect on a vehicle’s electrical system. The risks associated with flooded cars can lead to accidents and increased insurance premiums.
Fortunately, you don’t have to risk it all on a flood-damaged vehicle. Using the following tips and tricks, you can easily spot a flood-damaged car.
Flood-damaged cars notoriously have a stench about them. They smell like mold because mold is likely lurking somewhere in the car. The fact that they stink is a signal not to buy the vehicle.
Take a walk around the vehicle smelling it as you go. If you notice a musty smell, then the vehicle is likely a flood-damaged vehicle.
Another telltale sign that a car may be a flooded vehicle is like-new upholstery in an old vehicle. If you are purchasing a used car, then upholstery should have some wear and tear.
If a used vehicle’s upholstery or carpet looks as if it’s newer than it should be, then it probably is a replacement. This may be due to water damage to upholstery and carpet. Avoid getting tricked into purchasing a car that will give you a lot of headaches in the future.
Look at the Oil in the Vehicle
Depending on the extent of the damage, you can recognize a flood-damaged vehicle by the oil in the car. In a deep flood, water will flood the engine and mix with the oil in the car. If this happens, you’ll see water mixed in the oil on the dipstick. Any bubbles of water, even one, is a sign that you should avoid the vehicle altogether.
When water rises and gets in places it shouldn't, it has the tendency to leave dirt trails once it’s gone. The displaced dirt is a sign you can’t ignore.
Look for dirt trails in odd places if you suspect you are looking at a flood-damaged vehicle. You should check the glove compartment, trunk, and underneath the seats. When you see dirt in unusual places, then it’s time for you to look for a new vehicle.
When in doubt, have an expert analyze your vehicle to identify flood damage and speak with your insurance agent when it comes time to file a claim.