Flood-damaged car

When buying a used car, particularly following an emergency such as a flood or hurricane, consumers should be on the lookout for flood damage.

Some business owners or individuals may be looking to take advantage of consumers by selling them flood-damaged vehicles in the months following a hurricane or major storm that causes flooding. Even after a vehicle has been cleaned, unseen damage could exist, posing mechanical and safety risks to the buyer. 

Look for tell-tale signs of flooding.  The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles offers a checklist to help.  Always review the vehicle’s paper title before you buy and check to see if it has been “branded” as salvaged or damaged.  For a vehicle that has been damaged from flooding, the words “Flood Damage” must be included on the vehicle’s title.  Failure to disclose that information may be a violation of the law.

Have the vehicle inspected by an independent, competent automotive technician who has no relation to the seller.  Since flood damage is hard to spot, paying an expert mechanic for an inspection provides peace of mind.

Check the vehicle history with a private service that can research insurance claims. Visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System for its list of approved providers.