Close mark

8 Ways to Check a Vehicle for Flood Damage

Flooded cars

Every year, floods, rising rivers, hurricanes, and other natural disasters damage a huge number of vehicles. Unfortunately, thousands of these flood-damaged cars are fraudulently sold in auto auctions by deceptive car dealers.

What's more, some dishonest dealers buy these cars, restore them so that they look almost new, and sell at an attractive price. The buyers of such vehicles feel like they have struck a deal of their lives. Unknown to them, there are higher chances that expensive problems appear later on. Such car issues may be costly to repair.

Moreover, a flood-damaged car can be dangerous to drive. Such vehicles are prone to traffic accidents and can put both the driver and passengers at risk. In that case, how do you determine if a car has a history of flood damage? Here are eight signs of a potentially water-damaged vehicle:

1. The Car Is Sold At Suspiciously Low Price

Suppose you were selling a great car, how much would you ask for it? If the car's price is obviously cheaper than it should be, ask the dealer what's the reason for this. Such a ridiculously low price may be because it is a flood-damaged car.

2. Areas of Frequent Hurricanes and Floods

Furthermore, if the vehicle comes from an area where hurricanes and floods frequently occur, you may have a reason to believe that it is a potentially water-damaged vehicle.

3. Check Out for Water Damage Signs

Also, you can check out for signs of water damage, such as rust, silt, and mud. The dealer, while trying to restore the vehicle, may miss locations where water is likely to collect. Some areas to check include the glove compartment and dashboard, under the carpet, and below the seats. These are common locations where you can find signs of flood damage.

4. Faulty Fabrics

Furthermore, faulty fabrics are signs of a potentially water-damaged vehicle. Take a look at the upholstery and carpet for signs of water damage, such as water stains, discoloring, and fading, or replacement. If the carpet is too loose or if the upholstery doesn't seem to match, you may have a reason to be suspicious.

5. Nonoperational Electrical Components

However, all electrical components of the vehicle should be functioning properly. Take a test drive to ensure that all electronic components of the vehicle, including headlights, dashboard lights, turn signals, wipers, and radio, work as expected. If some of the electrical components are non operational, you may have reasons to suspect flood damage.

6. Changes in Viscosity and Oil Color

Another sign of a potentially water-damaged vehicle is changed in the viscosity and color of the oil. In a flood-damaged car, the oil may change its color and be like white coffee instead of being dark. It may also be thinner and stickier than usual oil.

7. Brittle Wires

Electrical wires become old and brittle when water penetrates into them. If you observe brittle wires beneath the dashboard, speakers, and hood, there are reasons to be concerned that the vehicle may be water damaged.

8. Musty Smell

Finally, musty, mold, or mildew smell and odor in a vehicle are signs of flood damages. It's very difficult to get rid of a water-damaged car of its musty smell. Take a deep breath and sniff to find out if the car has flood damage or not.

There you have it! Above are some ways to check a vehicle for flood damage. If you still aren't sure enough that the car has not been flood-damaged, ask an expert to inspect the car. You can also ask to see a vehicle history report (VHR) to reveal if the car has ever been involved in a flood or hurricane. If the seller refuses to provide you a report, use the vehicle's VIN to check the car's history at By doing this, you can avoid purchasing a flood-damaged car.

Vehicle History Reports
That You Can Rely On
If the used vehicle you’re looking in has been at accident, we’ll find out.
No VIN yet? Get VINinspect report

Checking your car
in advance will save you thousands of dollars!

icon blockchain
icon niada
Close mark

Similar Articles

Plus in a black circle
Install this webapp on your iPhone tap Share icon and then Add to homescreen