Beware of flood-damaged cars

Images of flooded cars in Colorado are all over the news media at the moment.  In the aftermath of the floods there, thousands of vehicles are expected to be written off by insurance companies.

Unfortunately, many owners may not be able to afford to scrap their flood-damaged vehicles.  For their information, here’s a useful article from Popular Mechanics on how to start drying out your vehicle.

Also, unscrupulous dealers may re-title flood-damaged vehicles and try to sell them as ‘normal’ used cars.  There are several tricks they can try.  Another Popular Mechanics article provides hints on how to spot such cars before you get stuck with one.



  1. I spent many years in the retail auto business. Much of that time involved buying inventory or appraising trades. I used a small telescoping mirror and flashlight to look at the back of the dashboard for mud, water stains, non OEM wiring, etc. You can buy a mirror for around $5 at any auto parts store.

  2. my son in law asked for help scouting out a vehicle a few years back. I noticed new wiring and that led to unusual rusting on the bottom of the fold down seats. I started looking for rust and it was everywhere it shouldn't be. We left there wondering if they found it floating in the gulf….. Shiny paint job on a rusting hulk is a good hint. So is the mirror and flash light.

  3. Just ask anyone who bought a used car in the area of and after Katrina what the risk is. Same is true of large appliances and powered tools.

  4. About 20 miles east of me there's a little-used airport. Last year, following Hurricane Sandy, much of it was used as a storage area for thousands of flooded cars. I moseyed on by to take a look and it was a surrealistic sight. What made it especially weird is that most of the cars looked completely sound, unlike cars that had been in crashes. Each one had the insurance company's name written on the windshield (it looked as if GEICO really took a hit, I'm surprised they could keep paying the gecko!)
    After about a month, flatbed tow trucks from all over the country were a common sight, hauling off the cars to junkyards.


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