8am-5pm (CST M-F)

(888) 231-7965

Effects of Water Damage and Flooding on Vehicles

Buying new or used cars is a big financial decision. Making an informed decision as a buyer is always the goal, no matter how large the purchase is. When buying used cars, a buyer should consider many factors beyond just the price. The condition, performance, market price compared to the listing price, and much more goes into the consideration of purchasing a used vehicle. 

Natural disasters add another level of uncertainty to new and used car buying alike. So many things become uncertain when faced with a natural disaster, and the quality and reliability of a car purchase should not be one of them. 

Lemon Squad has partnered with The Car Mom and Your Advocate Alliance to offer a 15% discount to all Florida Residents. With the damaging effects of the hurricane, pre-purchase inspection is even more essential to buying a safe and reliable vehicle.

Effects of Water Damage and Flooding on Vehicles

Hurricanes and other tropical storms can cause flooding and water damage to nearly all vehicles in the area affected. 

Therefore, it is essential to know the dangers of water damage and the long-term repercussions it can have on the safety and reliability of a vehicle. 

Effects of Water Damage and Flooding on Vehicles


Unfortunately, thousands of water-damaged vehicles do not get junked and are returned to the used car market. Some sellers take these vehicles and secretly sell them to unsuspecting buyers. There are many risks involved with water damage and flooded cars. 

Water damage can have a detrimental effect on nearly every part of a vehicle, including: 

  • Electrical Damage: Water and electrical components do not go hand in hand. Like any other electrical object, cars have advanced computers that can be damaged or ruined by flooding.
  • Engine Issues: Once an engine has been waterlogged, it becomes nearly impossible to correct the damage. 
  • Rust: Rust makes the components affected more susceptible to snapping, breaking, and overall corrosion. 
  • Odor and Mildew: The vehicle’s interior can be heavily affected by water damage. Mildew, mold, and other smells can become a recurrent and continuous problem in water-damaged cars. 


Indicators That A Vehicle May Have Been Flooded:

Many signs can tip off potential buyers to a vehicle having water damage. It is important to note that these things can be indicators of flooding; however, individually, they do not fully confirm that a vehicle has been flooded. All of these indicators can be caused by other issues beyond flooding, but a large combination of these components should be a cause of concern for potential buyers. 

  • Damp Seat Belts, Interior Seats, Cushions, And Carpet: These can create mildew on the vehicle’s interior, accompanied by an unpleasant odor.  
  • Water Stains: Most apparent on seat belts, seats, and headliners (severe cases)
  • The Cooling System Of The Vehicle Will Not Build Pressure Properly, resulting in malfunction. 
  • Reset computers:  The monitors within a vehicle can be incomplete or be cleared of any codes, fixed or unfixed. 
  • Rust Formation On Lower Interior Hardware, including seat tracks.
  • Wet Engine Air Filter: Dirt accumulation in the air filter box can be revealed after removing the air filter.
  • Significant Accumulation Of Mud And/Or Dirt under the hood in low areas of the engine and the surroundings.
  • An Engine That Will Not Turn Over: Risk of possible hydro-lock from water ingestion (combustion chamber filled with non-compressible water as opposed to the standard air-fuel mixture).
  • Abnormal Oil Fluid Levels: Over-full and or milky appearance may be caused by water intrusion. Intermix is what it is called when oil and water are mixed, and it becomes very milky. 
  • Electrical Connectors Short-Circuiting And/Or Corroding: Electrical connectors inside a vehicle’s cabin may not have weatherproof seals like the under-hood connectors have. This makes them more susceptible to water intrusion. As a result of water intrusion, short-circuiting and corrosion can ensue, leading to electrical issues within the vehicle. 
  • External Lights May Hold Water: The exterior lights of a vehicle may hold stagnant water left over from flooding. 

Avoiding Water Damaged or Flooded Vehicles: 

Some sellers pick up flooded vehicles for cheap from natural disaster areas, clean them up and reintroduce them to the market. These cars hit the market in natural disaster areas and other markets where buyers are less expectant of flood and water damage. 

For this reason, a pre-purchase inspection is essential for any buyer to make an informed decision. This issue can affect more than just the used car market, as even new vehicles can be heavily damaged by flooding and secretly sold with these impairments. 

Lemon Squad enables buyers to get an honest, third-party opinion on any vehicle’s condition, performance, and safety. Avoid buying a lemon; hire Lemon Squad.