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Worried About Buying a Flood Damaged Vehicle
Without Knowing It?


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 vehicle.

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 consider:

  • 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 water.

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





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