Be on the lookout for Flood damaged vehicles

by | Sep 16, 2021 | 0 comments

Aftermarket businesses and consumers should be aware of the possible influx of flood-damaged vehicles to the market.

In the wake of Hurricane Ida and other intense storms across the United States, CARFAX data suggests widespread flooding from Hurricane Ida – centred around New York City, New Jersey, and Louisiana – potentially damaged as many as 212,000 vehicles.

That’s on top of 378,000 flood-damaged cars that CARFAX data shows were already on the road in 2020.

While many of these vehicles are located in states far from the U.S.-Canada border, unscrupulous sellers may take advantage of the burgeoning online selling marketplace to move vehicles to unsuspecting buyers wherever they may be.

Texas continues to lead the U.S. in the number of flood-damaged cars on the road today, but CARFAX data shows water-damaged vehicles appear even in states where flooding isn’t common.

“Our data suggests that unsuspecting buyers everywhere are at risk of winding up with a previously flooded car,” said Chris Basso, CARFAX spokesperson.

“The real danger is that these cars may look fine and run well for a while, but sooner rather than later major problems are likely to occur. Flooded cars literally rot from the inside out and the damage is often difficult for untrained eyes to detect. Together with our dealers, CARFAX is making the necessary resources available to help ensure consumers avoid unknowingly buying one of these waterlogged wrecks.”

Flood-damaged vehicles are in use in every state, but CARFAX data shows these 10 states have the most:

3Kentucky23,8008South Carolina11,400
4Pennsylvania19,0009New Jersey11,200
5North Carolina15,30010Michigan10,400

Telltale Signs of Flood Damage

And, while telltale signs of flood-damage may not be apparent to online buyers, for those buyers in a position to do so in person, CARFAX offers a list of the seven telltale signs of a flooded car:

  1. A musty odor in the interior, which sellers sometimes try to cover with a strong air-freshener
  2. Loose, stained, or mismatched upholstery and carpeting
  3. Damp carpets
  4. Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals, or inside the hood and trunk latches
  5. Dried mud or silt in the glove compartment or under the seats
  6. Brittle wires under the dashboard
  7. Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights, exterior lights, or instrument panel

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