RealCarTips Logo

Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Car

September 7, 2017

With Hurrican Harvey estimated to destroy up to 500,000 cars, there's a chance one of those flood-damaged cars may end up for sale in your area, even if you live far away from Houston.

While Carfax will help point out vehicles that were flooded (they're releasing flood information for free on all vehicles), their database DOES NOT contain vehicles that were not insured, or repairs that were not filed through insurance. That could be up to 25% of the total flooded cars, or 125,000 cars that will hit the used car market without a proper history report.

Back when Hurrican Sandy hit, I did an interview with Business Insider where I provided 10 tips to help avoid buying a flood damaged car. Here they are, make sure you're aware of this as flood damaged cars hit the market:

  1. Always have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a mechanic. They should make note of any mud, dirt, or grime around the alternator, wiring harnesses, starter motors, and power steering pumps. (You should always get a vehicle inspected regardless of whether you're worried about flood-damaged vehicles or not.)
  2. Look for discoloration on the carpeting, seats, seat belts, and door panels. Try to look for areas where standing water may have left behind a slightly different shade of color.
  3. Look for vehicles that have replaced the upholstery altogether. That's a big warning sign.
  4. Look for moisture on the inside of the instrument panel.
  5. Smell for musty or moldy odors, especially from areas that may be hard to reach. Run the air conditioning to see if any odors come out of the vents. Also smell for strong cleaning chemicals or fragrances that are trying to mask the odor.
  6. Check for fogging inside the head lights or tail lights.
  7. Check the engine compartment and trunk to see if there is any indication of water lines.
  8. Check the undercarriage and look for signs of rust or flaking.
  9. Look for dirt buildup or grit around the seat tracks or under the glove compartment.
  10. Check to make sure the vehicle identification number on the actual vehicle matches the paperwork.

 

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar, Edmunds, and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.

California Residents - Important:

There is a new online car buying service called Roadster, available only to California residents, which I highly recommend you try - especially if you hate the stress of haggling with a car salesman. They provide an expert concierge who negotiates the price of the car and delivers it to your home with zero hassle - you never have to interact with a dealership. Here is my in-depth review of Roadster and why I recommend it.

- Gregg Fidan

Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
  • Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
  • Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
  • The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
  • Which Cars You Should Avoid
Enter Your Email Below

(Absolutely NO SPAM, easy to unsubscribe)
×

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan


Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

Latest Weekly Car Buying Tips    RSS Feed

October 19, 2017
October 12, 2017
October 5, 2017
September 28, 2017
September 21, 2017
September 14, 2017
September 7, 2017
August 31, 2017
August 24, 2017
August 17, 2017
August 10, 2017
August 3, 2017
July 27, 2017
July 20, 2017
July 13, 2017
July 6, 2017
June 29, 2017
June 22, 2017
June 15, 2017
June 8, 2017
June 1, 2017
May 25, 2017
May 18, 2017
May 11, 2017
May 4, 2017
April 27, 2017
April 20, 2017
April 13, 2017
April 7, 2017
I welcome your car buying questions. Email Me and I'll be glad to answer them!