How to tell if your vehicle or one you are looking to buy has flood damage

Published on Thursday, September 20, 2018

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How to tell if your vehicle or one you are looking to buy has flood damage
AAA Carolinas is providing tips for spotting vehicle flooding for Carolinians returning to their property after evacuating for Hurricane Florence.

“Thankfully, the water is beginning to recede in many areas across the Carolinas, but that can be deceiving to those returning to their homes for the first time who may think their cars were not affected in the heavy rainfall when in reality, they may have been,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson.


For those in the market for a used vehicle that are worried about purchasing a previously flood damaged vehicle, always request a vehicle history report. While such reports don’t always catch everything, more often than not they will indicate when a vehicle has been in a flood or been issued a salvage title, indicating a major problem in its past. 


The best protection against buying a flood-damaged vehicle is a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a qualified shop such as an AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility.  As a part of their inspection, the shop will look for common indicators of flood damage.


The following tips can be used to detect potential flood damage to vehicles:

  • Smell inside the vehicle to detect any damp or musty odors.
  • Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains.
  • Inspect the dashboard underside for signs of mud and dirt.
  • Look under the vehicle for corrosion. 
  • Open all doors, hood and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping. 
  • See if moisture is stuck in the lights (a visible water line may still show on the lens or reflector and moisture beads and fog can build up in light fixtures from flooding)
  • Check all warning lights, window motors and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, it combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern. 
  • Have a trusted mechanic examine your vehicle.


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