When purchasing a vehicle, knowing if it was damaged in a flood may not be as easy as you’d think. It can take months before the damage appears and is reported—if reported at all. In the meantime, some of these marred vehicles are being resold without disclosure of prior water damage and carry the hidden risk of high costs down the road.
Hurricane Harvey wrecked an estimated 500,000 vehicles, Hurricane Irma ruined an additional 400,000 vehicles, and Hurricane Maria took a toll on thousands of vehicles too. Whether you live in a flood-prone region or not, flooded vehicles can make it to your area.
Most states require a vehicle’s history report to include a flood or salvage title disclosure. However, states have different titling laws, and some are more lenient that others, which allows the possibility for vehicles to be sold and bought without a branded title.
So how do you know if a vehicle has been in a flood? Here are some resources and tips.
Look up the vehicle on these resources:
National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is an online tool that provides background checks on vehicles.
Carfax provides a vehicle history report that includes a flood damage check.
National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN-check service.
Inspect the following on the vehicle:
Carpets. If the carpets smell musty or appear to be brand new in an older vehicle, be suspicious.
Seats. If there is evidence the seats have been removed or replaced, it could have been to dry carpets.
Lights. Look for any visible water lines on headlights and taillights.
Rust or corrosion on screws, nuts, or bolts and unpainted metal may be caused by water.
Under the hood. Caked-on mud, water lines, or debris in hard-to-clean places can be a telltale sign of trouble.
Drain plugs. If these look like they have been removed recently, it may have been to remove water.
Power options. Faulty windows, locks, wipers, AC, and electronics can indicate prior water damage.
At Acuity, our focus is you! Follow these tips to help avoid purchasing a flooded vehicle.