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Dangers of Flood Damage

Tips to Stay On Top of Water Damage to Your Car

While the news reports concerning hurricanes, flood damages and the travesty that was put upon the unfortunate victims have slowed down, the dangers and hazards are still present. With reports varying upwards of 600,000 vehicles damaged by floodwaters, these cars and trucks will most certainly, and already have, surfaced across the country, waiting on their next victim.

It's easy to let your guard down with out much media publicity, but used car buyers should be aware that these vehicles are still out in the market, perhaps cross country in states that are not affected by the floods.

A couple of common issues that have surfaced, that you should be aware of, is sellers attempting to hide the origin of where these cars came from. By registering the vehicle in different states, it creates a paper trail that can be difficult to trace unless you spend the time for researching.

Another trick sellers will use is changing license plate frames or adding an emblem from another state. This of course is designed to deceive the potential buyer of what state the car came from.

The question remains, what steps should a consumer take to minimize their risk of purchasing these damaged vehicles? The below tips, ideas and suggestions will at least minimize your risk of purchasing a vehicle that has been involved with floodwaters.

Check the National Insurance Crime Bureau's web site at, they have compiled a list of vehicles that have that have been affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. While this list may not include every single vehicle, it's a good place to start with.

You should also run an online history report, but once again, this database may not be all-inclusive, it's simply another step in the process of elimination.

Knowledge Is King, and it can't have more meaning than in your quest for a quality automobile. Following the below inspection tips will offer some added protection as well, and is themost effective means of determining if the vehicle was involved in floods.

  • Inspect for grass and debris around the radiator, underneath around the frame, front and rear suspension components, etc.

  • Check for standing waterlines in the engine compartment, rear firewall area, and even inside door pockets of the door panels and interior trim areas.

  • Mildew smell inside due to wet carpeting and padding indicate the possibility water intrusions.

  • Inspect connectors and wiring for signs of corrosion, physically disconnect a few connectors and inspect the terminals. Corrosion evidence will be a green or white chalk substance or rust color.

  • Look for rusted bolts and metal components, particularly underneath seats where water has been standing.

  • Inspect for windows fogging up on the inside after the vehicle has sat overnight, this is an indication that there may be water underneath the carpet and or carpet padding.

  • Inspect the vehicle's trunk area for waterlines, corroded connectors and wiring.

    With a keen eye and a little knowledge you can minimize the risk of spending thousands of dollars on a vehicle that has potential long-term effects by water damage. offers a comprehensive "how-to" course designed to educate the average consumer on protecting themselves when used car shopping.

    (Source: UsedCarWise)