NADA’s inspection tips to detect flood-damaged vehicles

With the heavy damage from recent hurricanes in the south, NADA offers these tips for detecting flood-damaged vehicles.


  1. Check a vehicle’s title history using the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, or a commercially available vehicle history report service such as Experian or Carfax. Reports may state whether a vehicle has been flood damaged.
  2. Examine the interior and engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
  3. Check for recently shampooed carpeting.
  4. Look under the carpeting for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air conditioning pan leaks.
  5. Inspect for interior rust and under the carpeting, and inspect upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
  6. Check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and note any mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
  7. Check for rust or screws in the console and in other areas water would normally not reach unless the vehicle was submerged.
  8. Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
  9. Inspect electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
  10. Inspect other components for rust or flaking metal not normally found in late model vehicles.
Download Bulletin PDF