According to reports, floods damage or destroy thousands of cars each year. If your car is one of them, you might want to know if you are experiencing car flood damage symptoms and if it is still repairable. You may notice problems such as unusual odors, electrical issues, discolored interior, corrosion, engine smoke, moisture in the lights, and unusual noises. Is it repairable? The answer is not an easy yes or no. Your car needs to be assessed to determine the extent of the damage. Some can be repaired, while some can not. The better question will be, is it worth repairing?
The answer to this question depends on how severe the flood damage is. It can be very expensive to repair. If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance company will cover it, but if not, you will have to pay for it yourself. However, even with comprehensive coverage, if the total repair bill exceeds the current market value of your car, the insurance company will most likely total your car. If this is the case, you better sell your car to companies that buy cars regardless of their condition like Cash Cars Buyers. However, if you are buying a used car and it has car flood damage symptoms, better steer clear of that one. With this article, we will go through each of the car flood damage symptoms so you will be able to spot it when you go used car shopping.
Car Flood Damage Symptoms: What are the Problems with Flood Damaged Cars?
During typhoons or storms, people may be able to find shelter to keep them safe, but many of the cars are not. In fact, there are thousands of cars that get damaged or destroyed due to flooding every year. When this happens, many car owners will be left with no choice but to deal with their flood-damaged cars. They might ask, what are the problems with flood damaged cars? Can it be repaired?
If you want to determine if it can still be repaired, you will have to have your car assessed to know the extent of the damage. When the damage is just minimal, you may be able to repair it, but there are also damages that can no longer be repaired, or maybe you can still repair it but you will have to spend a lot for it. To determine what problems your flooded car has, here are the common car flood damage symptoms.
- Mold and mildew in the car’s interior
When the car has been submerged by flood, it is most likely that its interior will develop mold and mildew which can trigger allergic reactions and other respiratory problems.
- Strong musty odor
When there is mold and mildew present in your flooded car, it will usually emit a strong musty door. This can happen when you haven’t been able to clean the flooded area of the car thoroughly. You will have to remove and check your car’s seats, headliner, carpets, floor mats, air conditioning system, trunk, and door panels. You can replace some interior components such as door panels, carpets, and seats. Make sure that you clean your car thoroughly and never let water sit in your car for a long period.
- Electrical issues
Water and moisture can cause damage to the electronics and electrical components of the car. When there is moisture, it can result in a short circuit in the car’s electrical system. When this happens, it may cause damage to its components such as the car’s onboard computer, air conditioning system, headlights, brake lights, power windows, power locks, infotainment system, anti-lock brake system, fuses, and other accessories.
- Mechanical issues
You may experience mechanical issues on your car when it has been submerged in water, especially if you were driving it at the time of the flooding. When this happens, repairing it might be very expensive. Bear in mind that the engine of a car sucks in air for it to function. When the air intake is below the floodwater, the engine will start to suck in water instead of air. The piston will then try to compress it, but since the water can’t be compressed, it can result in piston rods to break which can cause engine stalling or your engine to blow. This is a serious problem that could warrant an engine replacement.
One of the car flood damage symptoms is rust. Although it might seem that your car is okay after being flooded, rust may start to develop at probably months or years on the different parts of a flooded car. When this happens, the structure of your car may weaken. It can also affect your car’s shifting and braking functions.
It is important that the moment you notice any signs of rust after your car has been submerged in flood, you need to have it repaired and have the rust removed immediately. Ignoring even a small rust can cause it to spread out until all is too late. You need to check some components of your car that are susceptible to rust such as the engine parts, frame, muffler, fuel tank, brake pads, clutch, trunk, fenders, chassis, wheels well, and all the screws and bolts.
- Contaminated fluids
A car has various fluids so it can function properly and efficiently. It includes engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid. When these fluids get contaminated with water, it can affect the performance of your car or worse, damage it. The said components will most likely be damaged because of lack of lubrication and corrosion. Plus, when flood water gets into the fuel tank, it might cause severe damage to the fuel injectors, spark plugs, and the engine.
That is why after a flood, you need to inspect all of your car’s fluids and check if they are contaminated. You need to check your fuel tank, coolant, power steering, clutch, and brake fluid reservoirs to make sure that there is no water contamination.
- Brakes are slippery
Slippery brakes can also be one of the car flood damage symptoms. This can happen when the car has been submerged in floodwater since the brakes may lose grip when the contact between the wet brake rotor and the brake pads is lost. To correct this problem, you will have to step on the brake pedal several times before driving on. If it still feels slippery, you will have to take your car to an auto service shop and have it checked.
Car Flood Damage Symptoms: How Do You Tell If a Car Has Been Flood Damaged?
If you are planning to buy a used car, you want to make sure that you won’t be getting a car with a lot of underlying problems. Although you don’t want to think that there are people who sell their “problem” car without informing the buyer of its real condition, it can still happen. One of the “problem” cars you need to be cautious of is a flood damaged car. Unfortunately, thousands of cars get damaged by floods each year but not all of them end up in a junkyard. Some are repaired and are resold in other areas or locations.
That is why it is important that you know how to tell if a car has been flood damaged. You need to be aware of the car flood damage symptoms. This way, you can be vigilant and careful when buying a used car. Here are some of the ways to spot a flood damaged car.
- Unusual odors
As mentioned earlier, mold and mildew may start to develop in the car’s interior when it’s been submerged in water. If you smell strong, musty odors in the car’s interior, it can be one of the car flood damage symptoms. It can sometimes be hard to remove, especially if the smell has already seeped in.
If you are buying a used car, you need to check how the interior smells by turning on the AC and closing all the doors and windows. Sit in the car for a couple of minutes to make sure that there are no unusual odors. If the car has a strong smell of cleaning products or air freshener, be wary of it too since the seller might be trying to mask a foul smell.
- Inspect the car’s interior
You need to inspect the car’s interior including the upholstery, carpets, and mats. Look closely for any signs of water stains on the front, back, and under the seats. A too clean interior can be a little suspicious too, like it has just been reupholstered with new seat covers, headliner, or carpet.
If the used car is a bit old but its carpet looks new, or the interior’s upholstery doesn’t seem to match, it can also be suspicious. A new carpet might be installed to increase the car value, but it is usually not the first priority of the seller. You also need to check if the floor carpet and the door and roof upholstery have the same color, wear, and age. If it’s not, it can mean that the car owner has removed water-stained patches.
You can also feel or pat down the car’s interior to check for any damp spots. This can be done since water from flooding can collect in locations that the seller might’ve missed. To do this, you will have to run your hands along the carpet and seats and pat it in various spots to try to find moisture. You need to pay close attention under the seats since they are harder to dry. If possible, try to peel back the carpet or mat to check if there is moisture between the carpet and the car body. You also need to check the trunk’s carpet.
- Check the electrical system
Since issues with the electrical system are one of the car flood damage symptoms, you need to check it to know if the system has problems. To do this, you need to check the electrical wirings and if each system works properly. You can check them by turning on the car radio, the windshield wipers, turn signals, lights, and all the other electrical components.
You should also check if there is any condensation of moisture trapped in the headlights or in the electronics and gauges in the instrument panel of the car. Use a flashlight to look for any signs of moisture under the dashboard, in the console, or behind the radio face. When you notice that there is indeed moisture in these areas, then it can be an indication that the car was flooded.
- Check for corrosion or rust
Corrosion is one of the car flood damage symptoms. You need to thoroughly check the used car you are planning to buy for any signs of corrosion. It is usually visible so you need to look closely on metals both inside and out. If you spot rust on the car’s door hinges, screws, brackets under the hood, hood springs, or on any other metal component, it means that these metals have dealt with significant water contact.
You can also lift a part of the carpet in the car’s interior to check if there is rust on the floor. Look for any signs of corrosion or rust everywhere, including all four doors. If you spot rust or corrosion, consider it a red flag.
Other things that you can do to make sure that the car is not flood-damaged is to run its VIN and get its vehicle history report, ask for the car’s service records, and ask for a test drive. Buying a car, even if you're buying a used one, can be considered a big investment. It is not cheap, so you would want a good value for money.
To make sure that you won’t be buying someone else’s problem, you need to make sure that you thoroughly inspect the car before deciding to purchase it. It is for this reason why you need to be aware of the car flood damage symptoms and how to spot a flood-damaged car. If you’re still not sure about the car, you can ask a mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection.