How to spot a flood damaged car

Cars and water don’t mix so always check for flood damage when buying a second-hand car writes Geraldine Herbert

From the outside, there may be no signs of flood damage so here are a few things you need to check

  1. Always do a history check on any car you are thinking of buying but remember if the damage was not reported to an insurance company there may be no record of flood damage.
  2. Smell inside the car. Even if the car has been thoroughly cleaned or even valeted the stale smell of stagnant water is likely to linger. Another giveaway is the overuse of air fresheners, be wary of cars where cleaning products have been excessively used.
  3. Examine the interior, in particular, look for water stains or faded upholstery; discolouration of seat belts or even simply some dampness so look under the carpets.
  4. Look under the bonnet for evidence of water.
  5. Check the warning lights on the dashboard and ensure all the electrical items, such as the stereo, windows and mirrors are working. 
  6. Put the heating on and see if the windows start to steam up as that would indicate there is trapped water in the heating system or there is moisture in the car somewhere.
  7. Check the car’s paperwork such as the owner’s manual, log book or NCT Certs, is there obvious water damage?
  8. Look for any rust or corrosion; does the amount tally with the age of the car?
  9. Check underneath the oil filler cap, if there is a whitish deposit on the base of the cap or around the filler hole that means there is water in the engine.
  10. Finally, if you have doubts about the condition of the car get a mechanic to check it out for you or walk away from the deal, don’t buy something you are not completely happy with.


Geraldine Herbert
22nd May 2019

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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