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Hurricane Ida: What to find out about flood-damaged vehicles

1000’s of vehicles are anticipated to be broken by the flood waters attributable to Hurricane Ida within the southeast United States, many past restore.

(Sean Rayford/Getty Pictures)

Each house owners and insurers should take care of the aftermath and determine what to do with the automobiles, whereas automobile consumers have to maintain a cautious eye for any totaled automobiles that find yourself on the used market illegally. The present excessive demand for used vehicles might compound the difficulty.

Right here are some things all the affected events have to know:

Q: SHOULD I START MY CAR IF IT’S BEEN FLOODED?

A: No, in nearly all instances. If the automobile was solely in just a few inches of water that did not rise previous the underside of the physique, perhaps. Water larger than that may get into wires, transmission components, the exhaust or different locations. Deeper water may enter the cylinders that encompass the pistons. Making an attempt to begin the automobile may bend components that join the pistons to the remainder of the drive prepare, stated John Nielsen, managing director of automotive engineering for AAA.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT DRIVING DURING FLOODS

Oil, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid and different liquids may have water in them that might trigger harm if not changed. Nielsen recommends having the automobile towed to a mechanic for inspection. Relying on the severity of flood harm, he says the price of refurbishing a automobile probably can be greater than changing it.

Q: IF IT’S REPAIRED, WILL MY CAR BE SAFE?

A: In all probability not. Water may have broken sensors, electrical connectors, pc chips and wiring which can be below the carpet, behind the dashboard or within the engine compartment. That would disable lights, air luggage, ignition, gasoline and brake pedal sensors or different important techniques. Corrosion can type beneath wiring insulation. Salty water from the Gulf of Mexico would make that worse. Harm might not floor for years. “Perhaps it is OK. Perhaps it isn’t. I might be actually fearful about it,” says Nielsen.

Q: WILL INSURANCE COVER A FLOODED CAR?

A: Relies on your protection. If you happen to’re financing or leasing, your lender probably requires complete insurance coverage, which generally covers flood harm together with hearth, vandalism or falling objects. However in case you personal a automobile outright, or it is previous and can be dearer to restore than it is value, it’s possible you’ll select to not get complete protection. As of 2013, 78 % of U.S. insured drivers had complete protection, in line with the Insurance coverage Info Institute.

Q: HOW DO INSURERS HANDLE FLOODED CARS?

A: As soon as an proprietor information a declare, the insurer will consider the harm. Many states have tips for a automobile to be thought of a complete loss, together with the extent and sort of harm and the price of restore, says a spokeswoman for State Farm. If the insurer determines the automobile is a complete loss, it should pay the proprietor — minus a deductible that is usually $500 to $1,000 — and take the automobile and the title.

Q: WHERE DO FLOODED CARS GO?

A: Insurers will flip the vehicles over to auctions or salvage yards. Undamaged components can be salvaged and plenty of automobiles can be scrapped. Some will go to salvage auctions, says Tim West, vice chairman and North American public sale director for Black Guide, a service that calculates used automobile costs. All the pieces that is dominated a complete loss by an insurance coverage firm ought to get a salvage title. However shoppers needs to be cautious. A automobile thought of a complete loss in a single state won’t require a salvage title in one other state, says Ron Montoya, a senior shopper recommendation editor for Edmunds.com.

Q: HOW CAN I AVOID BUYING A FLOOD-DAMAGED VEHICLE?

A: Flooded vehicles may very well be shipped to different components of the nation and even different nations. To seek out out the place the automobile got here from and if it has a salvage title, consultants counsel keying the automobile identification quantity into providers (there is a cost) that search automobile histories similar to Autocheck or Carfax. Carfax and the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau supply free providers to test for flood harm. Patrons can ask to take the automobile to a mechanic for inspection. Patrons can even search for indicators of flooding, together with musty or moldy odors or overpowering use of air freshener, discolored carpet or new carpet in an previous automobile, water traces within the engine compartment or trunk, fogging inside headlights or taillights, rust or flaking metallic below the automobile, and grime buildup in uncommon areas similar to round seat tracks. If you happen to see any indicators, do not buy the automobile, AAA’s Nielsen says. “You are liable to face gremlins with that automobile perpetually,” he stated.

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The Related Press contributed to this report

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