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Car in a flood with damage

When shopping for a used car, have you ever asked yourself if a car could be a hurricane car, damaged in Hurricane Florence or Harvey? If not, you might want to start asking.


In 2017, over 600,000 vehicles were damaged due to Hurricane flood waters, including some without insurance coverage. Many of these cars end up for sale in used car lots. Since these vehicles didn’t have insurance, it’s a strong possibility that shoppers are unknowingly buying flood-damaged cars.


Cars with hurricane damage have an inherent risk for dangerous and severe electrical and mechanical failure.


If you are shopping for a used vehicle, here are some red flags to look for that might indicate a car has hurricane damage:


  • The noticeable water line on the headlights
  • Traces of mold, mud, sand or watermarks
  • Musty-smelling or stained carpet
  • New carpet in an older vehicle
  • Debris or mud in extended areas of the vehicle
  • Mildew or musty odor when the AC is running
  • Rubber drain plugs on the bottom of car doors and underside of car MISSING (indicating they have been removed for draining flood water
  • Pitting under the hood which can indicate oxidation – looks powdery and white and may have tiny holes
  • Screw behind the dashboard and other areas appear rusted
  • Rust on unpainted metal surfaces
  • Brittle wires under the hood, speakers, and dashboard


You may also want to be skeptical if you are offered a deal on a used car that seems too good to be true. Be sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly for signs of hurricane damage.


Car parts can also be scavenged from vehicles that have hurricane damage and end up for sale as replacement parts. You might be billed for a new part while in fact, it’s a damaged part that could end up causing you more car trouble. Be sure to use a mechanic you trust or inspect the part yourself before it is installed.