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Buying Flood-Damaged Cars – Know 3 Titles

Buying flood-damaged cars because of limited used cars and high prices could be tempting. But are they really worth buying and what should you be looking for?

In most cases buying flood-damaged cars are dangerous because they are more likely to have water damage inside the car. This water can cause mould, rust and corrosion. The water can also lead to electrical short circuits and make the car a fire hazard. Flooded vehicles are also considered high-risk for potential mechanical problems and should be inspected by a mechanic before being driven again.

Can A Car That Has Been Flooded Be Repaired?

If you’re talking about the submerged cars that are towed out from flooded basement car parks of the many apartment buildings probably not. But if you’re looking at a freshwater-damaged car as opposed to a saltwater-damaged car and the water line is just above the carpets then possibly.

You could also be looking at a vehicle that was driven into floodwaters (nose of the car in first). In this case, only the engine was submerged but no water entered the inside of the cabin area. The engine may only need replacing which could be sourced and bought from a wrecker. Just check the cost first. (watch the second video in the playlist below for example)

To help you further on what to check watch the playlist of videos and follow my steps and tips to assess the damage to the car first. It will also guide you on what to do before attempting to start a flood-damaged car and drive it again.

What Are The 4 Types Of Damages That Can Affect Your Car After Flooding?


Flood water contains bacteria and other substances that corrode metal parts on the car. This will eventually lead to rusting and the breakdown of your car.


When there is a large amount of water in contact with the bodywork for an extended period, it will start to corrode the paint from the underside. This will eventually lead to rust on all external metal parts such as doors and bumpers.


Flood water contains dirt, oil, salt and other materials that accumulate on the surface of your car’s bodywork after a flood.


Which occurs when oxygen in the air reacts with metal on your vehicle’s exterior.

What Are The 3 Different Types Of Salvage Titles?

A Statutory Write-Off

Is a car that’s been assessed total loss following damage that’s not repairable.

A Repairable Write-Off

Is a vehicle that doesn’t fulfil the statutory criteria for being scrapped. It’s been assessed as being in need of an expensive repair.

No Title

This may be because the vehicle was not covered by comprehensive insurance at the time of flooding. These vehicles are usually cleaned up, listed for private sale and later sold as normal cars to unsuspecting buyers.

Buying Flood-Damaged Cars Worth It?

Buying Flood-Damaged Cars Worth It?

The used car marketplace is very tight at the moment with 2 out of every 3 sales being a used car pushing demand high. Along with the impacts of Covid, flooding and not to mention having no local car manufacturing industry anymore, we also have a big supply problem. The demand and supply are really pushing prices high and stretching budgets. So one can understand contemplating buying flood-damaged cars even if you’re buying your first car.

There are many tell-tale signs of flood damage that can give you clues as to how far the water level got to and what components of the car the water got into. For example, look at the speedometer or instrument cluster to see if there are any water stains. If so I definitely would be steering clear as the damage to electrical components would be too great. You would continue to always have electrical issues.

If you assess a car and only find signs the water level reached the bottom of the doors and it was freshwater and not saltwater then maybe this could be worthy of a further inspection.

How Do You Buy Flood-Damaged Cars?

If you are contemplating buying flood-damaged cars for sale do a WOVR check first using the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see what salvage title the vehicle has. If you’re buying the vehicle to repair and re-register it make sure it is possible in your state or territory. If you’ve done all the necessary vehicle status and history checks then I recommend you grab my free Street Smart Tool Kit to help with your DIY inspection.

Most vehicles that are assessed by insurance companies and written-off find their way to various car auction places or the owner has the option to buy back the vehicle from the insurance company. Some people may decide to do this to sell individual parts, repair the vehicle in hopes to re-register if their state or territory allows or perhaps repair and sell for profit. Buying a car at auction from the bigger auction companies like Pickles or Manheim have a salvage auction and a free catalogue listing the damaged vehicles for sale and their salvage title. You can search Pickles Salvage around the country or Manheim damaged vehicles. Just make sure you know the salvage title status.

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