How to Spot a Flood Damaged Car

Credit challenged consumers should be on the lookout for used cars with water damage that might soon be flooding the market

Watching the Waters

How to Spot a Flood Damaged Car

Here at Auto Credit Express we know it’s been shown that car buyers with bad credit are more likely to buy car with that has suffered some type of water damage. In fact, one Experian Automotive study revealed that “more than 2 percent of the late-model used vehicles (model year 2005 and newer) had a negative vehicle history event (frame damage, salvage, odometer rollback, etc.), which can significantly impact the vehicle’s value.”

The report also noted that buyers with damaged credit are even more at risk of buying a flood damaged vehicle noting that “more than 3 percent of financing outside of prime had negative vehicle history.”

Record Flooding

We were reminded of this fact earlier this week when the Detroit metro area was hit with record-breaking rainfall that caused flash-flooding that trapped thousands of motorists on local freeways.

Images from the days that followed showed all manner of abandoned cars and trucks literally underwater – including at least one car hauler loaded with brand-new vehicles.

The storm was also said to be on its way to the northeastern U.S. where it was expected to cause further damage.

AutoTrader tips

Certainly no coincidentally, earlier today AutoTrader issued a number of tips to help car buyers spot flood-damaged vehicles.

“Damaged vehicles can often end up hundreds of miles away from the flooding event to cities where consumers might not be as suspicious of them,” said Brian Moody, site editor. “It’s important for car shoppers to always be aware that flood damage could be a possibility and be mindful of the signs.”

In the report, AutoTrader noted that flooding can damage vehicle electrical systems and affect the operation of power locks and windows as well as vehicle safety devices. Meanwhile, corrosion and rust, which can often take years to appear, can literally destroy a vehicle”from the inside out.”

To help avoid these issues, Moody and the AutoTrader editorial team came up with these tips for buyers:

  • Look out for hidden rust. Key places to check include the trunk, on exposed screws under the hood, around doors and on exposed metal areas under seats. “Rust in these areas indicates exposure to excessive moisture at some point in the car’s life, and can be difficult for an unscrupulous seller to get to and fix,” Moody says.
  • Give the car a thorough sniff test. The smell of mildew is never a good sign, according to Moody. Areas like underneath carpets and in between gaps in the seats can harbor telltale odors. Also be wary of cars with extra potent or an excessive quantity of air fresheners.
  • Beware of “too good to be true” deals. “If a car seems to be priced well below what similar makes and models are selling for in your area, that’s a big red flag,” Moody says. Sites like can help car shoppers get a sense of a new or used vehicle’s Fair Purchase Price (what cars are selling for locally) through the Price Advisor tool, and shoppers can also look at listings of comparable vehicles on
  • Watch for suspicious mud and debris. Many sellers will thoroughly detail flood-damaged cars before resale, but consumers can sometimes catch hidden areas of mud and debris where it wouldn’t end up normally, such as crevices and corners underneath the hood, in the trunk and on the underside of panels and brackets.
  • Get a vehicle history report. While they may not catch flood damage every time, Moody says history reports are a great initial indicator if a car has had a watery past.
  • Get the car inspected by a reputable mechanic. AutoTrader’s experts recommend getting every used car inspected, regardless of if you suspect something as serious as flood damage. “While it does require some additional time and money, an inspection could save you thousands in the long run,” Moody says.

The Bottom Line

Water damage not only lowers a vehicle’s value, it can cause irreparable damage to a car’s body and electrical systems. Car buyers, especially those with problem credit, would do well to follow the tips from AutoTrader to help them avoid spending their hard earned back credit car loan on a damaged vehicle.

Another helpful tip: Auto Credit Express matches consumers with credit issues to those new car dealers that can offer them their best chances for car loan approvals.

So if you’re ready to reestablish your credit, you can begin now by filling out rel=”nofollow”>our online auto loan application.

Posted on August 15, 2014 by in Used Cars
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