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How to Tell if a Used Car has Flood Damage

How to Tell if a Used Car has Flood Damage

flood damaged car

Most used car dealers are honest enough to let you know if the used car or truck you’re interested in has been in a flood. There are the rare occasions, however, when the seller may not know everything about a vehicle’s past or may only be trying to deceive you. Flood damage is one of the hardest sorts of used car damage to detect if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but there are a handful of easy tip offs. If you suspect the used car you’re interested in has been flooded in the past, it’s best just to walk away and find a better deal.

The Smell

One of the easiest ways to tell if the car has been involved in a flood is if the interior has a musty, damp smell. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to get rid of that smell.

Odd Colors

Be sure to check out the interior thoroughly. Is the carpet discolored? Do the seats match the rest of the interior? It’s easy to swap large pieces of the interior like seats, but carpet and door panels may be more difficult to replace in good condition. Keep an eye out for dark stains toward the lower portion of the used car or truck, too.


When a vehicle is involved in a flood, water carries all sorts of debris everywhere. That includes lots and lots of soil. When the water recedes, all that dirt is left behind, both inside and out of the vehicle. No matter how thoroughly a car has been cleaned, caked on mud will remain. Give the car a good once over and look for any odd build up.

History Report

If a flood is on the vehicle's insurance record, that information will show up on the vehicle history report.