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Tips For Spotting Flood-Damaged Vehicles!

Over 500,000 new and used vehicles were damaged in the recent floods and hurricanes. Unfortunately, many of these vehicles will make it into the general population. Many private owners and car dealers will end up with some of these cars without ever knowing it.

Due to the varying title regulations from state to state even some vehicles that are declared a "total loss" will slip through the cracks and end up with clean titles.

If you don't want to end up with one yourself it's going to be important for years to come that you closely inspect any used vehicle that you are considering.

Ideally have a professional mechanic and body shop inspect the vehicle before you buy it. Use the following list as a guideline.

  1. Get a Free CARFAX Record Check or a history Report from, which should tell you if the car has been in a flood or totalled.
  2. Inspect the interior and engine compartment for any signs that water, mud or debris were present.
  3. Check the carpets, seats and door panels for any signs that they were recently shampooed. This by itself doesn't mean the car was flood-damaged, but it could be a clue if other evidence is present.
  4. If you can, peel the carpet back and look for wetness, signs of rust or mold.
  5. Check under the dashboard for any signs of dried dirt, water lines or other debris. Also check for moldy or musty odors.
  6. Take everything out of the trunk including the spare tire and look for signs of water marks, dried mud, rust, mold or other residue.
  7. Look for rust on any screws in the interior of the car, including the screws in the door sill plates.
  8. Inspect under the hood for dried mud and residue. In particular look in crevices and recesses, around small parts, wiring harnesses and hoses.
  9. Inspect any electrical connections and components you can see for telltale signs of rust and moisture.
  10. Pull the wheels or have someone do it for you to inspect the brake components and wheel bearings for any signs of having been submerged in water and mud.
  11. Inspect under the car for unusual corrosion, mud deposits and signs of water damage.

Remember, problems caused by flood damage may not show up right away. It may take months before an electrical connection fails, or an electrical component shows any signs of failing. Light bulbs could rust in their sockets, or wheel bearing, u-joints or CV-joints may fail prematurely.

Don't get paranoid every time you look at a used vehicle, but use your head and be careful. Most of all, don't forget to get a Free CARFAX Record Check or a history Report from

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