AAA warns flood-damaged vehicles may be on market soon

BY THE TRI-CITY HERALDNovember 6, 2012 

AAA is warning the public to look out for flood-damaged vehicles after Hurricane Sandy.

Those cars and trucks can be shipped to other states for resale, including Washington state, and may show up for sale as early as a week after a devastating storm, AAA said in a news release. The vehicles may be on the market up to a year after a major flood.

Because of the short amount of time between being damaged and sold, the vehicles often are not identified as flood-damaged in national databases, according to AAA.

"Flood water is a corrosive and abrasive mixture of water and dirt that forces its way into every seam and crevice of an automobile," said John Milbrath, AAA Washington's vice president of Member Services, in a news release. "Most vulnerable are the engine, transmission and other components of the drive train. Unless these vital parts are completely restored, contaminants from the flood water will cause premature wear and shorten the life of the vehicle."

AAA recommends that shoppers have any used car inspected by a qualified automotive technician before purchase. Auto repair facilities can be found at

Buyers should also check the car's title history and get a CARFAX Vehicle History Report, which sometimes can reveal if the vehicle has been involved in a flood, major accident or fire and can also uncover odometer fraud.

Tips for determining if a vehicle was flood damaged include smelling a damp or musty odor; pulling back the carpet to look for mud, dirt or water stains; inspecting under the dashboard for mud and dirt; looking under the vehicle for signs of corrosion; open all doors, hood and trunk to check for corrosion, mud, dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping; and checking warning lights and window motors and all electrical components.

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