How to Check for Flood Damage when Buying a Used Car

This Flooded SUV in Marietta should be salvaged by the Insurance Company.

This Flooded SUV in Marietta should be salvaged by the Insurance Company.

As I mentioned in my Automotive Minute on WSB radio last weekend, the recent floods all over Atlanta will go down in history.  Homes, businesses and properties were damaged by the water, and a large number of cars were also flooded.

The same way consumers in the south were warned about flood-damaged vehicles after Hurricane Katrina, Atlanta used car shoppers need to be aware of the possibility that some individuals may try to sell flood-damaged and salvaged vehicles without revealing their histories.

A Carfax or Autocheck report will show any police reports or insurance claims on the car, and will include details about flood damage or a salvaged title. However, if the car’s owner tried to correct the water damage without filing an insurance claim, it’s possible that such a history won’t pick it up.

If you are shopping for a used car in the Atlanta area, here are a few tips to help you look for signs of flood damage in an automobile:

  • Touch the carpet and upholstery and press to check for dampness
  • Smell for mold or musty smells inside the vehicle
  • Check the carpets – do they look like they have been removed or replaced recently?
  • Pull the floor mats out and look for signs of rust or water damage under the brake and gas pedals and on the metal parts beneath the seats
  • Check the carpeting and spare tire well in the trunk for the same signs, as well as a thin brown line that may show how high the water levels were inside the car
  • Check under the car and in the wheel wells for signs of rust, corrosion or water marks

At the Jim Ellis automotive dealerships, we pull a history report on every single vehicle we sell and our service departments inspect the pre-owned vehicles on the lot before we offer them for sale.

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