How To Check For Flood Damage in Your Car

Buying a flood damaged vehicle could be a financial disaster waiting to happen!  We have spoken with our experienced Motorama technicians and valuers to put together a couple of pointers on what to look for to avoid a lemon.

  • Checking for water damage - The quickest way to find out whether or not a car has flood damage is to literally smell it. It's very difficult to completely rid a flood-damaged car of its mouldy aroma and mildewy scent. So have a look throughout the car and pay special attention to it's overall look, scent and of course any mildew formation is a sure sign that the car was exposed to significant amounts of water. If you smell the mould right away, you're probably looking at a flood-damaged car. If you aren't quite sure, however, close the windows and doors, sit inside, and really give it time to scope any stench. Another quick tip is to, pull the seatbelts all the way out to see if there is any form of discoloration from water stains along the actual straps. Along with your sense of smell, your sense of touch is important to sensing moisture in a used car also. Water from flooding tends to collect in locations even the dealer may miss. Run your hands along the carpet and pat it in different spots to try to locate moisture. This can be done throughout the entire vehicle.
  • Recognize Rust - Look closely at the exterior paint. If you see bubbles, you may need to be wary as there could be rust under the paint job. Corrosion is a common issue in flood-damaged cars.
  • Faulty Fabrics - The upholstery that covers a car's interior can also uncover flood damage, with close inspection. Take a careful look at all the upholstery including front, back and under the seats to spot water stains of all different colours. Don't forget to compare the floor carpet to the upholstery on the doors and the roof to be sure they all appear to be the same age and colour.
  • Take a Test Drive - A compromised electrical system is severe issue in vehicle and also if exposed to high waters for extended periods of time. You'll want to test drive the car extensively to ensure all electrical components are operational. Have a look under the bonnet of the car (if you are mechanically inclined) and gently bend the electrical wires to see if they're brittle. If they are, you've likely detected water damage. When you turn the car on, listen for different sounds, and use your eyes and nose to see if smoke appears around at all. Make sure that all the dashboard lights come on also. Turn on the wipers, air conditioning and cigarette lighters to make sure they work as expected. And don't forget to listen to the radio.
  • Check the oil - Changes in the colour and thickness may indicate that water has gotten into the engine's oil. Having an oil check done by a trustworthy service department will be able to eliminate these worries from your mind.
  • Dirt and Debris - Scanning the car for sand, silt and grass is important especially when the water levels recede because majority of the debris will still remain. It's difficult for someone cleaning a car to completely remove all of it. When examining a used car, you'll want to look in the places where mud and grass may remain after a flood.
Remember, that receiving a complete report on the vehicle prior to purchasing it may also be able to reveal whether or not it was flood damaged and the severity of that damage. It is important you obtain one of these reports. If this is not possible, using the tips above will give you a better understanding of the vehicle and it's condition.
Got any further concerns or questions, give us a call at any of our Motorama Service Departments or stop by for a complete check of your vehicle