Look for these things to avoid buying a flooded car

Diane Wilson Image
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Flooded cars on Triangle roadways, tips not to buy one
These are cars that if you buy, could put you and your family at risk.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There is a new warning about flooded cars from Hurricane Idalia here in the triangle.

Chopper 11 spotted several cars in Whiteville, NC submerged in flood waters after Tropical Storm Idalia moved through the state. Many of the cars had water past the windows of the car.

According to Carfax, there are more than 452,000 cars on the roads in the US, that's an increase of more than 13% from 2022. Here in NC, more than 15,000 flooded cars, the data for Carfax shows.

If insurance declares the car salvaged, the title will state flooded vehicle. Flood-damaged cars that are uninsured, however, can easily be cleaned up and resold. An ABC11 viewer reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson after buying a used car, they had no idea was flooded. The paperwork for the used car says it's not a flooded car, and it was sold AS IS. However, after having problems with the car, the buyer took it to a mechanic, and the mechanic pointed out all the rust underneath the car, plus the interior of the car, the seats, and the carpet, also have evidence of the truck being submerged in water.

Faisal Hasan with Carfax says, "Even though the car might run over time, what that corrosion is going to do, it's going wear down the battery. It's going wear down the key components in a car and an electric vehicle, it can actually cause even greater problems, and it could cause a fire. It may not cause it right away, but the longer it's there it could really begin to wear down the battery of the car. So they can be incredibly dangerous."

Here are the Troubleshooter takeaways to remember before you buy a car. Make sure you open up the hood and look for rust, corrosion, or brittle wires. Also look for fog or moisture beads in the lights, as that's often a sign a car has been submerged in water. When it comes to upholstery, look for water stains on the seat belts and carpet, and if you smell a musty odor that could also be a sign of water damage.

Always check the history of any car, before you buy it. You can use Carfax's Free Flood check, but again, not all of the car history will show up on these reports, so it's key to have a car you want to buy checked out by your mechanic as they can get underneath the car and spot what you may not see.