Beware: Flood-Damaged Cars Could Flood Used Market

Flood cars

If there’s a crab under the seat, don’t buy the car.

While there are other indications that a used car has been involved in a flood, dead sea creatures wedged in tight places are a pretty good sign that water once infiltrated a vehicle’s interior.

And that, friends, is not good.

With the heavy spring melt-off and torrential rain flooding areas of the country, an influx of water-damaged cars could be hitting the market right now.

And the clues to spot them may not be as obvious as we’d like.

We’re all aware that the used car market is awfully tight thanks to a variety of reasons. People are holding onto their cars longer, and prices are through the roof, meaning the market is ripe for fraud.

A car that’s been damaged by water can never be returned to its original condition. Problems are common with the engine, electrical system, fuel system, brakes and mold in the cabin, none of which you want to deal with after buying a used car.


On the beach, good. In the car, bad

The easiest way to spot a flood-damaged car is by its title. If all goes according to plan, a flood car will be branded with a “flood damaged” or “salvage” title. However, scam artists know how to take a car with such a tarnished title to a state that doesn’t specify flood damage on the title, making the car appear to have a clean title.

It’s a dirty trick that shouldn’t happen, but as long as the loophole is open, there will be scumbags who will jump through it and consumers who will be scammed by it.

When shopping for a used car, especially in the next few months, be careful to research its past. Find a local one on DealFinder, inspect it well, look for signs of mud in hard-to-clean nooks and crannies, check for water in the spare tire well and give the interior a careful examination for water spots or foul smells. Most of all, get a second opinion from a good mechanic.

Or just keep an eye open for dead shellfish.

Have you ever bought a used car that turned out to be something other than what you thought?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus


  1. How about telling us what states don’t require the car to be titled as “flood damaged” or salvage?

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