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How to Identify a Flood Damaged Vehicle


It is important for those considering the purchase of a used vehicle to be car care aware and check for signs of water intrusion or contamination, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

"Purchasing a used vehicle and later learning it has been flood damaged can be very problematic and lead to costly issues down the road. Worst yet, these vehicles can be unhealthy to occupy because of mold and bacteria growing in the carpet and ventilation system," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council and the Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN), a network of professional automotive service providers, say it all comes down to how much water the vehicle took in and where it can be reached and together recommend taking the following steps to determine if a vehicle has been flood damaged:

  • Take the sniff test. Close all the windows and doors and let the car sit for about five minutes then crack open a door and sniff. Mildew and mold have very distinctive smells and it doesn't take long for that smell to present itself.
  • Try the touch test. Get some paper towels and press them against the low spots in the carpet. The paper towels will draw the moisture out and reveal if the carpet is wet under the surface. Some carpets can be several inches thick to insulate from heat and sound. If the paper towel becomes wet it could mean water has gotten into the car.
  • Investigate the interior. Look under the seats and dash for corrosion and rust and look for exposed metal that is untreated. There are metal springs under the front seats that are usually not painted. If they are rusted that is a sign the interior has been wet. Look for mud and debris in places it does not belong.
  • Inspect the instrument panel. Turn on the key and perform a bulb test. Make sure every bulb lights up. If a system has an issue, removing the warning bulb can hide it. Many times vehicles that have flooded have malfunctions in their anti-brake and air bag systems. Ensuring the light comes on and then goes out after the bulb test is an indicator that the system is on and has no active faults.
  • Take it to a professional. Let a service and repair technician inspect your vehicle. They can raise the car and look underneath to see if there is any mud, sticks or rocks in the suspension. A professional can check the oil in the differentials to make sure they contain no water in them. Spend a few dollars to have it looked over to give you peace of mind.

Source: Car Car Council


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OUR REVIEWS

 (2 Reviews)
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reviewiconOil Change, near Port St. Lucie, FL

I had just converted my 2020 Hyundai Elantra from a lease to a purchase and now owned a car I thought I was going to turn in. I had not done any of the maintenance except for oil changes as I thought Hyundai would be taking care of that. With the car over 40K miles and due to experience with other prior purchases, I figured I was in need of a transmission oil change, Radiator flush and a engine oil change. The nice people at Cottin's made an appointment and we got together on the appointed date and time. They had the car on the rack about 15 minutes and came out to tell me my transmission oil was nowhere close to being due. Per Hyundai, that was a 120K service and they had a tamper sticker over the plug as it probably should be done at Hyundai direct. I asked them about the radiator. Again, due at approx 80k and my car was only 40k. They offered to still do the service if I really wanted to waste the money, but said it was not necessary. All I really needed was an engine oil change, air/cabin filters and some wiper blades. They took care of those items quickly and efficiently and the cost was very reasonable. Most other shops I know would have done the work I originally requested and not said a word, happy to make the quick buck without me being the wiser. Cottin's on the other hand only did what was needed and did it well. I am very pleased with the services done and will be back in the event I do have a break-down or when I do hit the mileage for the other services. Thank you for being SO honest and transparent. You have earned a customer for life!

, 06/21/2022

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