"I bought a car last year and the seller never told us anything about it being a flood car," said Charlene Geiger from Pennsylvania. "When we got home and ran a Carfax, there it was – a flood car from Hurricane Sandy. It showed that the seller bought it as a salvage car and the title was washed when he brought to Pennsylvania. We lost $16,000 over all of it."
In addition to the current total, several hundred thousand more flooded cars may emerge from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Historically, about half the vehicles damaged by floods end up back on the market. Flooded cars rot from the inside out as water corrodes the mechanical parts, shorts the electrical system and compromises safety features like airbags and anti-lock brakes. Health concerns are an added problem, as mold and bacteria permeate the soft parts of the car.
"Our data shows there's still much work to be done in helping consumers avoid buying flood damaged cars," said Dick Raines, president of Carfax. "They can, and do, show up all over the country, whether it be a few miles or hundreds of miles from where the flooding occurred. With two devastating storms already this year, it's vital for used car buyers everywhere to protect themselves from flooded cars that may wind up for sale. Start with a thorough test drive, a vehicle history report and a mechanic's inspection before buying any used car."
In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Carfax is letting consumers check for flood damage free of charge at carfax.com/flood.