Alina Machado

Spotting the Flood Damage in a Car

If you’re buying a used car, beware that there could be flood-damaged cars in local lots. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, as many has 500,000 vehicles were damaged, many by flood waters. And experts warn many of those vehicles could end up for sale – looking like new.

“There are over 9,000 flooded cars in the Miami-Dade area right now that are either on the road or potentially up for sale and those numbers are going to continue to grow,” said Chris Basso, spokesperson for CARFAX. Basso showed NBC 6 Responds how easy it is to clean up a flood damaged vehicle and make it look like new – both inside and out by purchasing a vehicle damaged in Hurricane Harvey flood waters.

“We cleaned it up, spent about a day cleaning it up and about a $1,000 to do it, but there’s definitely some tell-tale signs that are still on this car,” Basso said.

Start by looking under the hood.

“You can clearly see corrosion and rust that are on the metal parts of the engine,” Basso said. “That’s going to quickly break down the engine, cause a lot of problems.”

He found similar issues with the fuse box.

“This is the heartbeat of the car right here controlling many functions of the vehicle,” Basso said. “You can see on the fuse itself the corrosion that’s already occurring.”

Corrosion is also easy to find on the metal parts inside the car. Selling a flooded car is legal, as long as the damage is disclosed. But Basso warned it might not be the best deal.

“These cars are ticking time bombs and could fail at any time and cause a disaster situation if they fail while the car is being driven,” he said.

Mold and bacteria in the soft parts of the car can also cause serious health problems, Basso said, which is why he recommends taking the time to do your homework before you buy.

“Get the information about the vehicle’s past, find out if it’s been reported as flood damage or has any other problems,” he said.

You should always have a trusted mechanic take a look at a used car before you buy it. And, using a vehicle’s VIN, you can check for free to see if a vehicle has had flood damage reported by clicking here.

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