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How to Tell if a Used Car has Flood Damage

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

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.

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.

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.

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

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