Offering high-quality, cost-effective representation to consumers throughout Maryland

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Consumer Rights
  4.  → How do you know if a used vehicle has flood damage?

How do you know if a used vehicle has flood damage?

Knowing a vehicle’s history after purchase is imperative to whether you received a good deal or a used car dealer tried to scam you. From pictures or first glance, you may not notice water damage. Likewise, dealers can clean cars up so you cannot tell outright that they have experienced a flood before.

According to Carfax, about 378,000 cars experienced flooding and remain in use. Before determining if a car has flood damage, you have to check it out yourself.

Check the interior

Open up the car and take a look around the interior. If the vehicle smells musty, then you may have flood damage on your hand. Consider rolling up the windows and closing the door if you suspect the dealer aired out the car beforehand. Mildew has a distinct smell you cannot miss. If the vehicle smells heavily of air freshener, this may be a red flag that the dealer wants to cover up the scent.

Check under the seat for water stains or damp spots on the carpet. If you see blotchy stains, this could indicate water damage. However, it can also mean that the previous owners had kids that spilled in the car. While under the seats, check for any rusted seats or mismatched upholstery.

Open up the hood

Check the oil for any signs of water. When the oil mixes with water, it turns murky. Additionally, you can check the air filter. When exposed to water, the air filter looks different. Water stains do not disappear. To further check for flood damage, consider a test drive. You should not experience any unusual noises, odd smells or see smoke.

To purchase a car with flood damage and no damage report constitutes a misrepresentation.