How to know if a car is flood Damaged?

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Flood Damaged Cars

Below are some of the main things to look out for in a flood damaged car:


Check for any indication that they have been under water. Is there any condensation lines on the lenses? Do the headlights have any visible water lines? If so, this could mean that the car has had possible water damage.

Use Your Senses

What does the car smell like? Does the car smell mouldy? This again may be a sign that the car has had water damage.

Alternatively, if the car smells too fragrant or if the car has been sprayed with air freshener to a great extent, are bad odours being covered up?


Is there a huge amount of condensation in the car? If so, it could mean that there is significant moisture in the car and it has had some sort of water damage? Trapped water in the heating and ventilation system can also lead to excess condensation – try putting the heating on and see if the windows start steaming up.

Keep an Eye out for Rust

We all realise that there will be a certain amount of rust on cars that are very old. However, if the wires under the dashboard, the pedals or components in the engine compartment have significant rust on them that is a major sign of water damage.

Check the Seat Belts

Interestingly, a seatbelt can also be a gauge to see if the car has had water damage. Do you hear any grinding or feel that the seatbelts are sticking, it may be as a result of sand or mud stuck in them. This could indicate that the car was likely flooded somehow. Is it hard to pull the seat belt and fasten it? Make sure you check the seat belts for such defects before buying a used car.

Seems too Cheap

Listen to your gut feeling and remember the old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”. This is especially true when buying used cars. A car that is cheaper than expected could mean that the seller knows there is something wrong with it and is trying to sell it quickly.

Get a Car History Report

Unscrupulous individuals will buy a car that’s been written off as flood damaged and re-sell it without telling the buyer the history of the car. A Car History Check tells you if the car has been previously written off. Get a Car History Check report.

As with any used car purchase, it's important to use your head and remain savvy. A previously written-off car could represent a bargain but a flood-damaged car could also be a very expensive mistake. If you suspect a car is flood-damaged, particularly if the car is advertised at a mysteriously low price in areas where flooding has occurred. As always, if in any doubt, walk away.




Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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