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Shopping for a Used Car? Here’s How to Tell if it Was Damaged in a Flood (For Free)

Spencer Platt / Getty
Spencer Platt / Getty

With the terrible hurricanes in Texas and Florida, along with the flooding we dealt with in the Treasure Valley this summer, there’s going to be an influx of used cars with flood damage.

If you’re wondering “How does this affect me?”, I had the same reaction. Problem is, a lot of these vehicles will be making their way into the Boise used car market.

KTVB spoke with Kyle Latham, owner of Impact Motorz, and he warns about what to look out for:

They do make their way to drier areas, the Pacific Northwest and they do salvage them out. Have a mechanic you trust go through the car. Number two, do a vin check so you know the car’s history, where it’s been, the work that’s been done on it; and then check that title carefully to be sure that it is a clean and clear title and that it’s not a salvage. Once an insurance company deems a car to be totaled, i.e. the flood damage is so bad that the car cannot be repaired, that’s going to create a title history and it will be a salvage title. The minute you step foot on any car lot is that number one, is this a clean title? Just straight up a yes or no answer.

That last part is important if you want to protect yourself from buying a lemon that could end up costing you a fortune down the road. Unfortunately, not every instance of damage will be reported to insurance, in which case you should look over the car for any signs of excessive rust, electrical damage, or a non-factory paint job.

It sounds like a lot to worry about, but there’s help available. After Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, CARFAX is offering free flood checks to help those in need.



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