How to avoid buying a flood-damaged car

Once a shady reseller pulls the leaves out, it may become very difficult to tell that Hurricane Ian carried this beautiful Bimmer over 15 feet. (Photo courtesy of Reddit user u/Outrageous_Dolphin)

Flood damage is so catastrophic for a car’s health – causing rot, frying electronics, etc. – that most insurance providers instantly total them. And yet, shady resellers will buy them cheap, dry them out, and dump them onto unsuspecting buyers.

Now, with 10,000+ Hurricane Ian vehicles being trucked to other markets, how do you spot – and avoid – a waterlogged nightmare?

Check for smells, grit, grime, or rust all over

Check for new or mismatched screws

Get a pre-purchase inspection within the return window

Use Experian AutoCheck for a free VIN report

In the end, follow your gut. If something feels off, run.

Chris Butsch, Contributor