How to Avoid Being Tricked Into Buying a Flood Damaged Car – TrapTap TrapTap logo TrapTap Dev

How to Avoid Being Tricked Into Buying a Flood Damaged Car

Think it’s a good idea to purchase a flood damaged car with the plan of repairing it? Think again. Buying a flood damaged car is a huge gamble and it is not an easy fix. In many places a vehicle that has been labelled as flood damaged cannot be registered and can only be used for parts.


With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently hitting Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida Canada and the United States are likely to see an influx of cars for sale at prices that seem too good to be true. Flood damaged cars may not be put up onto the market immediately, but it is estimated that 500,000 to 1 million cars were damaged by Hurricane Harvey alone.


A car that has been emerged into pure water may survive, however flood waters tend to be contaminated with bacteria that is damaging to the car. Important features, such as airbags, breaks, computer and electrical systems, may be unsalvageable, making the car unsafe to drive. Additionally the damage caused by the moisture can be long-lasting, making it difficult to be able to tell which parts need to be repaired.


If you are in search of a vehicle and come across what appears to be a good deal beware, someone might be trying to sell you a flood damaged car. To avoid being fooled by this trick, read on for tips.


  1. Things to check for: Musty odor; dirt or mud stains; rust or corrosion; stains or leftover water in ash trays, glove boxes or compartments; carpeting or seat covers newer than the vehicle; a “crunchy sound” when seats are pulled forward or backward; ensure all power options work, including windows, locks, wipers, and AC; oil or transmission fluid is milky or has beads of water; and unusual engine or transmission sounds or erratic shifting and acceleration while test driving.
  2. Check the car’s vehicle history report. Most states require the report includes disclosure for flood-damaged cars so this is an important step when purchasing a vehicle.  The history of the car can be checked with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, CarFax or the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Center. To do this you will need the car identification number, which can be found on the driver’s side dashboard. Even if you do check the history report, an inspection is still recommended as people are not always honest with their car’s history.
  3. Check the car registration. The registration might be able to give you a clue of whether the car was in a hurricane-affected location.


If you have purchased a car that seems to be flood damaged there may still be hope. Lemon laws offer legal recourse to people who have purchased a malfunctioning car. Not every state’s lemon law covers used vehicles but it is still worth contacting a lawyer as there are consumer laws that may offer you rights as a used-car buyer.