Flood damaged cars Legal Problems

mmmm6mmmm6 Member Posts: 1
I am considering buying a flood damaged car from a dealer. Does anyone have any experience with this and what would be the major problems I could encounter? I would appreciate any advice.


  • enetheneth Member Posts: 285
    You don't want it. Any car that has been flooded is considered totaled - it will have a salvage title in most states and be worthless on the used-car market.

    Flooding causes all sorts of problems with cars - most of the damage unseen. Skip that car and buy something else.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    And the problems will never go away. You will have electrical problems years later.
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    on a hot day with the windows rolled up. Makes you want to throw up.
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    Water got into places that were never intended to get wet....

    Given all of the above, you'd have to get the car for almost free, and be ready to just walk away from it when something major goes wrong,
  • blarg1blarg1 Member Posts: 59
    offer the dealer this...

    you buy the car for $100. then dealer sponsers you in a demo derby.paint his name all over the car... find a couple guys to work on the car-ad in the paper? then smash it up, and save someone else from buying the floater.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 582
    It got into a flood in Florida. Water went up to the inside floor board. When Uncle died (2 months unrelated), my brother bought the vehicle from the "estate". He likes to buy cheap cars. It had been repaired just after the flood and you would have never known what it had been through. About 7 months afterwards the car went to pieces...all kinds of things began surfacing....brother sold it but it took a while, and he took a pretty good "bath" on that cheap priced good looking car.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    It is possible for the car to run again, though it may never be quite the same. I have been trying to help my friend with his 93 Buick Century which was completely submerged in a flash flood. The engine was full of water, as was the gas tank and tranny. Believe it or not, the clock on the radio still works and all power windows still work. The power locks froze completely on 2 of the doors, so bad in fact that you cannot manually unlock them by hand, you cannot unlock the front doors with the keys, and none of the doors were capable of being unlocked with a jimmy. This car would have been a death trap had someone been inside the car and drove into a river. I have never heard of locks freezing so bad that you can't even force them open with tools. At any rate, we drained the water and oil from the engine and forced the water out of the cylinders by taking all the spark plugs out and cranking the engine. We can get the engine to start and stay running when using starter fluid, but it stalls once you stop spraying the fluid. The fuel pump is running, but we think there was too much water in the gas for it to ignite. So, we have now drained the gas tank and hope that we can get it to stay running once pure gas is put back in. I have confidence that this car can run again as long as we can purge the fuel system of water, but its life was severely shortened. At any rate, if this car will start after being completely under water and most of its electronic gadgets still work, than some refurbished flood cars should be ok cars as long as they are real cheap and you don't expect them to last too long. I will update here whether we ever do get the car running again. I hope we can as my friend is broke and has no insurance so he's in a real rough time right now.
  • acelinkacelink Member Posts: 106
    While surfing the net, I found flood damaged vehicles for sale on www.ecocar.com. I was especially interested in a fully loaded, white 1993 Supra 5 speed (non-turbo) that looked immaculately clean. They say it runs and drives, and if I disregard the fact that the car has been water-damaged, its asking price of $9,900 is very tempting indeed.

    Is it possible to bring this car back to the working order by simply disassembling the engine and transmission to clean out the rusts within with something like WD40 and by replacing key electronic components (bear in mind that I trying to salvage as much as possible to save money)? I am sure it is not simple as that. I wonder how manufacturers deal with their new cars damaged by water. If you know something about fixing water-damaged cars, please enlighten me.
  • bigfurbigfur Member Posts: 649
    If not that car will be a money pit for you. water will corrode all the wiring depending on how far up it got. it could cause you major problems down the road.
    former body tech
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    Ok for starters it's a 7 year old car for almost $10K, you should be able to buy one RUNNING for the same amount without the hassles of making it go. Even if the is a "deal" the money involved in repairing would be astronomical.

    The interior will be shot and have to be replaced all the way to the floor boards, including carpet and door panels, and that is just to get rid of the smell.

    Not only do you have to deal with the musty smell and possible mold, but all the other electrical stuff is screwed. It might all work now but the long term durability of components like window motors and such are greatly reduced. The brain, radio and any other electronic component is going to be toast, if not now soon. Water kills solder joints.

    The engine probably survived fine, usually just pull the plugs and turn the motor over with the starter, after you replace it. Change the oil, oops I mean water. The tranny is another story, the parts in there do not like water at all. Very costly repair.

    In my opinion it would just be a parts car for the engine. Or if you have a wrecked version of the same car it can be a host shell for your stuff. Beyond that I would steer clear of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Manufacturers usually junk flood damaged cars and so should you.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    About 4 years ago our institution received a donation of 3 new vehicles damaged from a flash flood in a Montreal compound. There were over 300 there, most in way over the door sills and all written off. Ours had the carpets, rear seats, and assorted interior trim removed. All 3 turned into electrical nightmares and have since been disposed of, unsuitable for use as teaching tools because they were constantly screwing up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I remember a case of a boatload of Mercedes that were flooded in the hold of a cargo ship. The cars were scrapped but about 6 months later all the VIN numbers started showing up for warranty claims! Of course, they were all denied and the lawsuits flew. Word I heard was that the cars were sold by the scrapper to a firm in Belgium that rebuilt them and sent them back to the US.

    You get what you pay for.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    I know when the Mississippi River flooded out everything in it's path that a lot of the cars were totaled out by the insurance companies and sold to salvage yards. Then the yards fixed them up and sold them at auction to used car dealer on the west coast. Tons of lawsuit over that one too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I wonder how they laundered the titles. Some states allow you to do this, to re-register an out of state car with a salvage title and get a "clean" title.

    So if you run a CARFAX and see that your potential purchase made a mysterious trip to New Hampshire or Alabama, you'd best watch out.
  • dmdixo00dmdixo00 Member Posts: 1
    How much should a flood damage claim lower the value of my trade-in.
  • acelinkacelink Member Posts: 106
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Due to the massive flooding and recent hurricanes, this topic has been revived.
  • tkfitztkfitz Member Posts: 95
    is salvage. Flood damage is hidden and long term. It is almost impossible to get a loan on one, and insurance companies are very reluctant to be involved with one. This should set the value on the vehicle....that said there are quite a few dealers near me that offer these cars. I have looked at a few interesting vehicles but never been able to get the dealers to bite at an offer I made. 50% of wholesale value value really ought to be the absolute top value for such a car. The fact they are going for more clearly shows that some sort of underhand title laundering must be going on. If a car is titled in Mass. and then moved over to NH and back a couple of times the title often comes back clean. I would never buy a luxury car at any small used car dealership near the Boston area.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    Many years ago several car dealerships were flooded in the Wilkes-Barre area. I remember seeing pictures of junkyards full of new 1972 Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Chryslers, and Plymouths. Another set of pictures showed a hydraulic crushing machine smashing a new Coupe DeVille with stacks of flattened cars nearby. This is probably the best approach toward flood-damaged cars.
  • cadillacmikecadillacmike Member Posts: 543
    Crushing a Cadillac is never a good thing!

    I had to drive through some very high water in Miami one time, 4 years ago - no ill effects so far...">
  • atlvibeatlvibe Member Posts: 109
    Flood, theft, severe collision etc...any time a vehicle is bought back by an insurance carrier that car should be dismantled. That would stop the problem. Flood damage cars are a perfect example. Sooner or later someone gets deceived. This stop the issue.
  • p100p100 Member Posts: 1,116
    Agree, and if the damage is minimal, then they could dismantle the vehicles and sell good body panels, bumpers, etc at good discounted prices to individuals who are interested.
  • ericqericq Member Posts: 6
    I researched all 4 of my cars this last week. I bring this subject up because of what Carfax did not have about my 2001 Taurus. It was totalled in a one car accident on May 25 2004. The state cops were there and cited my daughter(police report). The fire department put out the fire that completely gutted the car. I took the car off my property tax roles and went to DMV with copy of police report. I got compensated by the insurance company. Everybody knows about this accident of 2 years ago EXCEPT Carfax. They think I still have it. They don't reflect the rear ender on my daughter's pick up either. That was in Jan 2005. Again a police report and insurance payout. Hm.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,140
    A reporter would like to talk to owners who have purchased a car that was found to be flooded by Hurricane Katrina or another recent hurricane. Please respond to [email protected] no later than August 6, 2007 with your daytime contact information.

    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
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  • chazcliff1chazcliff1 Member Posts: 1
    Contrary to what above say, water doesn't damage solder connections. Likely gunk in water screws up the mechanical parts of window openers and locks. It irritates me when body-shop guys say you cant fix something up. I have fixed up two cars I've totalled. The body-shop guys charge one price for insurance work and another for cash. For instance extimates on my 5th Avenue were over ten grand but I fixed it for less than $4,000. My Suzuki Sidekick estimate was $7,500 but $3,500 fixed it up but not perfect. Nothing inside the body shell was damaged. I wish I could get an honest post from someone who refurbished a flood car not for insurance purposes. I'd expect to replace ignition parts. If the engine checks out on the dynomometer it should be good. I think, in my non-expert opinion. I could expect a computer unit to be hosed.
  • e2009e2009 Member Posts: 23
    MB 2009 flooded in parking lot to just below exhaust overnight. Residual of water to seat tracks in the interior. Wiring harness and other electrical parts below floor were replaced by dealer. New carpeting. Insurance company states not enough damage to be total.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Member Posts: 3,425
    What a Blessing that its Baptism was not by immersion, only sprinkling. Drive it. Is not the rest of the baby just fine? :confuse:
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,140
    Have you ever bought a used car, only to find out later that the vehicle had suffered flood damage? A TV news show is working on a story about the resale flood-damaged vehicles, and would like to help tell your story. If you’ve ever been a victim of this practice, please send your contact information and a brief description of your experience to [email protected] by no later than January 16th, 2012.

    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
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