Detailed Guide On How To Check For Flood Damage In Cars

The UAE’s unpredictable rain can wreak havoc, leaving flooded streets and damaged vehicles in its wake. Some of these flood-damaged cars get refurbished and put back on the market, posing a significant risk to unsuspecting buyers. 

Flood damage can lead to a host of electrical issues, engine problems, and safety hazards down the road. So, how can you avoid this costly mistake? Here’s a comprehensive guide to spotting a car that’s been hiding a watery past:

Checking Body Panels 

  • Check for rust on exposed metal components, under the dash, under the body, and around the bonnet joints. Excessive rust could indicate flood damage.
  • Floodwater can seep into door panels, causing warping or detachment. Check for any misalignments, loose trim pieces, or bubbling around the door panels.
  • If possible, get a good look underneath the car. Look for signs of rust, caked-on mud or debris, or any components that appear recently cleaned or painted. These could be attempts to hide flood damage. Read this linked article to know the important steps to take after a car is damaged by floods.

Signs Of Water Stagnation

  • Inspect headlights, taillights, and even the interior lights for faint water lines on the lenses or reflectors. These lines might be a giveaway, although crafty sellers may replace the lights.
  • Take a close look at hard-to-reach areas under the hood, trunk, and around the spare tyre well. Waterborne mud and dirt trails can linger even after a cleaning.
check flood damaged cars
  • Floodwater can leave silt deposits behind the dashboard and inside the glove box. Look for these signs along with upholstery stains or discolouration, especially variations in colour between upper and lower seat cushions.
  • Floodwater can damage the car’s carpeting. Feel the carpeting throughout the interior, including under the floor mats. It should feel even and consistent, not damp, warped, or crumbly.

Musty Odour On The Inside

A musty or foul smell in the cabin is a red flag. Even if the interior seems dry, a lingering odour could indicate flood damage. Beware of strong air fresheners that might be masking the problem. Check the air conditioner too, as a musty smell from the vents suggests water damage within the system.

Missing Drain Plugs

Cars have drain plugs on the floorboards and doors to remove water. If these rubber plugs are missing or look recently removed, it might be a sign that someone drained floodwater from the car. Here is a complete guide on replacing lost vehicle number plates during the flood.

Electrical Woes

  • Test all the car’s electrical components, from cabin lights and infotainment systems to headlamps and taillights. 
  • Look for warning lights not illuminating on the dashboard when you turn on the ignition, or individual lights not working at all. 
  • Saltwater exposure in coastal areas can dry and crack wire casings, so look for those as well.

Checks Under The Bonnet

  • Test the handbrake, steering, and clutch for smooth operation. Any abnormalities might be signs of hidden water damage or lingering dirt and debris.
  • Check the engine oil, transmission fluid, and differential fluid for any signs of contamination. Floodwater can mix with these fluids, altering their colour or consistency. Look for a milky white or brown appearance, which could indicate water intrusion.
  • Start the car and observe the exhaust fumes. Blue or white smoke can be signs of water burning in the engine, potentially due to flood damage.

Additional Checks

Professional Vehicle Inspection

Despite completing these checks, you might still be unsure of the car. We recommend getting a professional inspection of the car done. Get a complete inspection of your vehicle from DubiCars. Our partner evaluates the car with over 200 checkpoints and provides a comprehensive report on the condition of the car. 

By following these pointers and getting a professional inspection, you can protect yourself from a watery nightmare on wheels. 

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