How to Handle a Flood-Damaged Car or Truck

How to Handle a Flood-Damaged Car or TruckThere has been a large number of cities flooded in the past few years. If you own a car or truck that has been impacted by flooding, it can be difficult to know what your next step should be. Submit an insurance claim? Try to sell it yourself?

On the other hand, if you are in the market for a car or truck, it can be difficult to know whether buying a car that has flood damage is something you should consider.

In almost all cases, the first thing that must be determined is the level of damage a vehicle has sustained. Once you determine that, you will be able to decide what should be your next steps.

The only way to really know the extent of the damage is to have an expert look at it. At that point you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my vehicle worth repairing? Most mechanics agree that if the water rose above the floorboards and into the electrical system, it may be in your best interest to get rid of it. Of course, even the most flood-damaged vehicles can be repaired but it will come down to how much you want to spend.
  2. What will my insurance cover? This will depend on your insurance policy and whether or not you are covered for flood damage.
  3. Will my vehicle be totaled? Carefully read your insurance policy and talk with your insurer if you have questions. In all cases an insurance company will look at the car’s cash value and compare that with how much it will cost to repair.

If you are planning to buy a used vehicle that you know—or suspect—has been damaged by flooding, you need to do your due diligence to ensure that you don’t get taken for a ride. The first thing that you should do is check the vehicle’s title for documented flood damage. If it has been damaged due to flooding, do not purchase the vehicle.

If there is no documented flood damage but you suspect it may have been flooded you should take it to a quality mechanic to have a diagnostic test run. This mechanic also should be able to spot any signs that the vehicle’s seller is trying to conceal flood damage.

Here are the most common signs of a flooded vehicle to look out for:

  • Water stains to carpet, seat belts or upholstery
  • Rust on screws or other metal surfaces
  • Water damage to the spare tire
  • Mud or evidence of submergence in the engine compartment or under the dashboard
  • Signs of moisture or water in the headlights or taillights
  • Electrical components that are not functioning properly
  • A moldy or musty odor

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