Finding the Perfect Car that wasn’t previously Noah’s Ark – Where Should You Start?

September 11, 2017

Finding just the right used car can be a challenge. This is further complicated with hundreds of thousands of cars victimized by Hurricane Harvey’s wrath with even more vehicles at risk of water damage with the onslaught of Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia. These damaged vehicles are easy targets for people who want to sell their damaged vehicle to unsuspecting consumers.  Knowing how to identify that flood damaged vehicle is imperative in avoiding wasting your hard-earned money.

Analysts are warning Americans to check vehicle history reports and inspect used cars carefully before buying. Carfax, a vehicle history report company, said about half of cars damaged by these types of natural disasters will return to the road. 

“Sometimes, spotting a flooded car isn’t as easy as you would think, said Melanie Duquesnel, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “On the outside, the car may look like it’s in perfect condition, while the inside tells a different story.” Worried you may become the victim of car fraud? According to Carfax, there are several steps you can take to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Never purchase a car sight unseen.  Craigslist, and other used car websites, are anticipated to host loads of ‘great deals’ for out of state cars.  Only purchase cars that you can touch, test drive and have your mechanic look over – no matter how good of a deal it is.

Check the vehicle history report.

  • After insurers cover flood damage on a vehicle, the vehicle history report will disclose its status as a “salvaged car.”
  • Carfax offers free flood-history checks following the hurricanes visit

Give the car a thorough inspection.

  • Use your nose.  Check closely for musty smells inside the vehicle.
  • Check the cleanliness of the car.  Check for any leftover dirt or debris in places such as under the seats, in the storage areas, trunk, dashboard, and under the hood.  Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays
  • Make sure the electronics work. Check to ensure locks, windows and infotainment systems work, if applicable. If those items do not work, this may suggest an electrical problem due to flooding. Also know that vehicle safety equipment, like airbags, will not work if the vehicle has been flooded.   
  • Rusting in all the wrong places.  Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading.  Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where the water would normally not reach unless submerged.

Take the car for a test drive.

  • Make sure the car starts without a problem.
  • Pay attention to any odd sounds or smells.
  • Ensure the transmission, steering system and brakes, all work properly.
  • Listen for audio issues.

Be careful of individuals selling used cars from a vacant lot or from the side of the road.


  • These vehicles may be sold by con men posing as private individual sellers. The car can come with hidden problems.  So get the car to your favorite mechanic, before spending your hard-earned money.
  • Before buying any used car you should thoroughly research the car and the seller. Contact the Better Business Bureau if you need more assistance.


Getting that perfect used car at an amazing price comes with some required homework.  Once the homework is done and it passed the test, you can be confident that the car will be a good investment.