There have had a lot of flooding problems nationwide
due to heavy rains, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Here are a few pointers
in protecting yourself from buying a flood damaged vehicle.
By using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), every manufacturer
has a vehicle history database that can be accessed from any dealership or by contacting
the district or regional office. This database will show you several things:
- In service date and location . . . this is helpful to see if the
vehicle was put into service in an area that has had flooding problems and now the vehicle
is being sold in another area of the country. That can be very suspicious.
- Warranty restrictions . . . sometimes a manufacturer will void a
warranty on a flood vehicle, this is required to be listed by federal law . It will
also show any other problems or warranty restrictions with the vehicle.
- Warranty Repair History . . . it is a list of all the warranty repairs
and recalls that have been performed on this vehicle.
- Recalls . . . shows any completed or outstanding recalls on the
If the manufacturer's database report does not show any problems, but
you are still suspicious about the vehicle, there are some other factors you may want to
- Have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a mechanic you know and let
them be aware that you are looking for flood damage.
- Look for any signs of mildew odor or discoloring on the carpet, seat
covers or trim in the interior or trunk areas.
- Look for new carpet, seat covers or trim.
- In the engine area, under the vehicle and in the trunk area,
look for any faint water lines or rust lines.
- If possible, open up the interior door trim to look inside the doors
for any dirt/mud residue or water lines that may not have been cleaned up.
- Check the electrical connectors in the engine compartment, under the
vehicle, in the passenger compartment and the trunk. Take them apart and look for
signs of condensation, dirt or sand that may have collected there due to being in or under
Overall, if a flood damaged vehicle is properly restored, you will
probably not have any problems with the vehicle. However, it is always nice to know
the history of the vehicle before you buy it.
Copyright, 1999, J. Daniel Emmanuel with assistance from Ray McNeill