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10 tips to spot a flood-damaged vehicle

November 22, 2010

There is no definitive way to detect vehicle flood damage, but the National Automobile Dealers Association offers 10 inspection tips to detect significant water damage.  At a minimum, a prospective buyer should: 

1. Check the vehicle’s title history, it may state whether it has sustained flood damage;


2. Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion;  

3. Check for recently shampooed carpet;


4. Look under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks;  

5. Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading;


6. Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk;  

7. Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where the water would normally not reach unless submerged;


8. Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays;  

9. Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion; and


10. Inspect the undercarriage of other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.