Breaking News
More () »

Flood-damaged vehicles are washing up in the used car market. Here’s how to avoid buying one

Here are some tips on spotting vehicles that have suffered flood damage.

HOUSTON — Hurricane Ian hit six weeks ago and vehicles that flooded in the storm are starting to wash up in the used car market.

According to CARFAX, approximately 358,000 cars were waterlogged in the storm.

Houston leads the nation in the number of flooded cars washing up. CARFAX reports that the Bayou City has nearly 32,000 of them.

That’s why we talked to Bruce Jones with CarMax. He said the great demand for vehicles is what makes Houston top the flooded car list.

“Cars get brought into Houston to meet customer demand, and within that, sometimes there are flood cars that come in,” he said.

Some cars are branded as flooded but some are not. That’s why Jones is helping to steer you away from a waterlogged ride.

Jones demonstrated what to look for with a real flooded car. CarMax won’t sell them to customers but they are used as show-and-tell vehicles.

Jones said the first thing to do is get a vehicle history report and ask to see the title. If it checks out, your best bet is to take it to a mechanic but there are some small things you can do first.

Jones suggested popping the hood to look for waterlines and debris. That will be your first clue about where this car has been. Check for waterlines in the wheel well, too. Once you’ve done that, Jones said to get your sniffer ready and open up the doors.

“I think everybody knows what that just stale mildew smell smells like -- something you definitely want to check for,” he said.

Check out the seat tracks for rust and pull back the trim near the door.

“We’re checking for silt, dirt, dampness, water anything inside here where standing water may have gotten into sat and then drained out,” Jones said.

Don’t forget to pop open the trunk, too. Jones said there are usually telltale signs of standing water.

A flood-damaged vehicle might look good on the outside with an appealing price tag but it could cost you down the road.

Before You Leave, Check This Out