Flooded Vehicle Fraud

A flooded vehicle is one that has been submerged or partially submerged so that its body, engine, and other mechanical parts are damaged. If a vehicle is damaged beyond repair, the insurance company will settle a claim by selling the vehicle as salvage.

Dishonest dealers will buy the car, dry and clean them and then sell them in a state unaffected by flooding. Though the car may appear dry and clean, there can be a lot of hidden damage. The dealer will then sell the vehicle and not disclose the damage on the title. This is a practice known as "title washing".

Always make sure you purchase a vehicle from a well-known and respected dealership.

Flooded vehicles can be spotted in a number of ways:

  • Look for water stains, mold or mildew, sand or silt under the carpets, floor mats, behind the dashboard, under the hood, and other places where water can collect and damage a vehicle.
  • Check for signs of rust or oxidation. Pay attention to electrical connections. Copper wire oxidation will have a green patina while aluminum and other alloys will show pitting and flake off as a white powder.
  • Inquire about the vehicle's history; inspect the title and papers for signs of counterfeiting.
  • Conduct a title search and ask about the vehicle's history.

As always, if you have any doubts or feel things are too good to be true, you should walk away rather than take any risks.