Following two destructive hurricanes in two weeks, there are a lot more flood-damaged cars in the U.S. than there were a month ago.
All too often, these vehicles make their way onto used car lots, or are offered in the classifieds in private party sales. A new report from Carfax, an automotive data company, suggests consumers are currently driving around in 325,000 cars and trucks that have been underwater.
That’s a 20% increase over last year and doesn’t take into account the impact from the recent hurricanes.
In most cases, when a car is submerged in water, the insurance company will declare it a total loss, and write the owner a check for a replacement. But that doesn’t always happen.
What to do if your car is flooded
State Farm Insurance advises consumers whose cars have suffered flood damage to carefully inspect the vehicle, but not to start it. If water has gotten into the engine, starting it can cause even worse damage.
The company offers a step by step guide here.
As you might expect, it all depends on how high the water got. If it covered the floorboards but didn’t make it to the seats, there might be extensive damage but the insurance company might decide it can be repaired.
The experts at Popular Mechanics suggest wasting no time cleaning out your flooded car, since mold, mildew, and even corrosion can set in almost immediately. They say you need to get started before the insurance adjuster arrives, because there is no guarantee he or she can get there right away, especially if there has been widespread flooding.