Getting a car loan doesn't have to be a nightmare, even with bad credit.

Can You Fix Flood Damaged Cars?

Flood Damaged Car

Last Updated on

When a car gets immersed in water, this can cause great havoc to its engine, interior and electrical system. River overflow, coastal flooding and flash floods are a regular occurrence in many places. Every year, scores of people are faced with flood damaged cars. This is mainly because your car isn’t always as fortunate as you are in regards to taking shelter during a flood.

Flood Damaged Car

Can a flood damaged car be fixed?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. To determine whether your flood-damaged car can be required, extensive assessment of the damage is required.  The extent of the damage can vary depending on the model of your car and how much water got sipped in. for instance, if your car has minimal dampness, you may be able to dry it out and move on. On the other hand, if your car is completely submerged in water then you may not be able to salvage it.

Types of flood damage

To further answer the question if you can repair your flood-damaged car, it may be of great help to know the type of flood damage you are dealing with. Here are some of the descriptions of types of flood damage and the likeliness that the car can be repaired:

Freshwater vs saltwater

While any water damage is not good, you need to know the kind of water that damaged your car.  If your car has been damaged by freshwater, then you have a better chance of having it repaired than when it is damaged by saltwater. This is because salt is very corrosive and can wreak havoc on the interior of your car together with its mechanical parts. The electrical components and engine are particularly vulnerable.

In many instances when a car is damaged freshwater, it just needs to be dried out really well. After that, everything is typically fine. , on the other hand, will require your car to be flushed out with fresh water after which it will need to be dried out to assess the extent of the damage which in many cases tends to be severe and expensive to repair.

Cosmetic vs mechanical

Was the damage to your car cosmetic or mechanical? Answering this question also has an impact on whether the vehicle can be repaired or not. Compared to mechanical damage, cosmetic damage is obviously a lot easier to repair. If your vehicle is cosmetically damaged, this typically means that its interior including the cloth, leather, wood and other materials are drenched in water. While this is not necessarily an easy fix, it is a lot more repairable when compared to mechanical damage.

To repair cosmetic damage, you will need to have the car dried out and them deep-shampooed and conditioned. It is also critical to keep an eye out for any signs of rust or mold growth due to the flood damage.

Mechanical damage can be rough because you can face serious repair bills especially if you were driving your car at the time of the flood. Since your car’s engine sucks in air to operate, it ends up sucking water instead if it gets submerged in the floods. The piston rods will start to bend and eventually your engine will blow. If this happens, you may be required to replace your entire engine.

Suggested read:

Use these 8 recommended tips on how to buy a used convertible

Is a flood damage car worth repairing?

This depends on the extent of the damage and you may be looking at some serious repair costs. Unfortunately, unless your vehicle is insured against flood damage then you may want to sell it and get a new one. However, you should also not rest too easy even if you have comprehensive insurance coverage. This is because your insurance company will total your flood-damaged car if the repair costs exceed its current value.

Therefore, before you can determine whether you can repair a flood-damaged car, you first need to determine the value of your car before the flood damage. Is your car old? Did it have any issues? Some of these questions will help you to determine if your flood damaged car is worth repairing or not.

Does car insurance cover flood damage?

As long as you have selected the right coverage on your policy, your insurance company should cover flood-damaged repairs. Therefore, the answer to this question is yes. This should be good news because a flood can easily total your car and the only way to get the insurance company to cover the total loss or pay for the repairs is by getting comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy. Flood insurance can be very crucial especially if you live in an area that is at high-risk from floods.

Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage is not part an auto insurance policy so you need to ask your insurance agent if they offer that type of coverage. Comprehensive coverage is for damages that occur from something other than vehicular accident including flood-damages, a tree falling on it and if the car is stolen. If your car collides with another one, it doesn’t fall under comprehensive coverage but under the umbrella of collision coverage.

If you are financing our car, then you are most likely required to carry both collision and comprehensive coverage because it acts as collateral for your loan. This is because your lender can take repossession of the car if you default on the loan and since they want to ensure that the vehicle is in working condition if that is to happen, carrying a comprehensive coverage is required.

What to do if your flood-damaged car is repairable

If you want to know whether your flood-damaged vehicle is worth repairing or if it is repairable, you need to get the damage assessed by a specialist. They should be able to not only determine the extent of the damage but also give you an estimate of how much the repairs will cost. Just to be on the safe side, try and get at least three estimates before going ahead with the repair.

Now that you know what kind of damage you are dealing with, the value of your car before the damage, if the damage is repairable and the cost of repair, then you know if repairing your flood-damaged car is worth it.  If the car is new or the costs of repair are minimal the repairing the vehicle is an option. However, if the repair costs exceed the value of your car then it may be wise to consider selling it to a junk car buyer.

Car interior water damage repair

While it is natural for you to want to keep your car on the road as long as possible, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. For obvious reasons, flood-damaged used cars have a bad reputation. However, this is usually due to incorrect action on the part of the owner. If your car has recently suffered water damage, there is a possibility that it can be fixed if you act fast. If the unexpected happens here is how you do water damage repair to the interior of your car:

  • Disassembly – Dismantle your car from top to bottom and if the headliner is waterlogged it will just come out. The door panels will come out too if they are water damaged. In almost every case you are required to remove the seats and car[pet. Remember to wear a respirator if the interior of the car has mold.
  • Dry it out – Crack all the windows for about two inches and place two oscillating fans inside the car for about 12 hours. Remember, everything has to be bone dry.
  • Track and seal the leak – You need to check where the water is sipping on from and if there are any drips then seal them. Once the sealant has dried off, test the repair several times just to be completely sure, you can do this using a hose or pressure washer.
  • Check for mold – Most flood-damaged cars end up assisting the growth of mold. Carry out a thorough check to ensure that no mold is growing in the interior parts. If there is mold, you should be able to treat it with a mildewcide as per directions.
  • Shampoo every part of the car that got wet – For the water to drip out, ensure that after taking out the carpets and seats, you hang them to dry. Also, do some thorough vacuuming on the ‘edge’ that is where gravity takes the water to
  • Replace your car’s carpet padding – Most repair jobs on flood-damaged cars will involve wet and moldy padding. Carpet padding is reasonably cheap and easily available. You can buy and patch it in from any carpet supply store.
  • Reassemble – Once you have checked to see that everything works then you can reassemble the car. Ensure that the sunroof, window switches, engine and seat heater controls are working.

While this may seem like a daunting task, with some patience it can be surprisingly easy.

Are flood-damaged cars worth buying?

A good car dealer can repair a flood-damaged car restoring it to look almost new. However, don’t get fooled by the good looks. Buying a flood-damaged car comes with a lot of risks but this doesn’t necessarily make a sued car a bad buy either. So, how do you decide on whether you want to take a chance on a car that has had a watery history?

Here are some of the crucial things you need to consider before making such a decision:

1. The level of submersion

The first thing you need to do is determine just how deeply the car was submerged. If the water level was not deep enough to cause havoc with the electronics then the vehicle may only end up with rust and corrosion. However, this doesn’t always mean that it is doomed for major operational issues. However, if the submersion was deep then there could be potential danger down the road even if there aren’t any electrical issues at that moment.

2. The amount of time the vehicle was under water

Remember that the longer a car remains submerged in water the greater the damage. Therefore, knowing just how long the flood-damaged car you intend stayed underwater will help you decide if you will take the risk of buying it or not.

3. The type of flood water damage

As mentioned earlier, it is important to know the type of flood water the car was submerged in. if it is salt water then this means that the corrosion will happen much faster and more aggressively than if it was under freshwater.

4. Does the title of the vehicle carry a ‘Salvage’ or ‘Flood” stamp?

If the flood-damaged vehicle you intend to buy carries this type of stamp then it means that someone, either a bank, insurance company or the owner at one time considered the car incapable of repair. Therefore, expect problems with such a car unless a major effort has been put on repairs.

The one time a flood-damaged car is worth buying is if you are looking for short term use if the automobile. If you are a college grad who needs a car just long enough to get to job interviews then you may be a good candidate for such a car. This is because you already have plans of buying a new car once you score a good job.

Also if you are a car enthusiast who loved buying salvaged cars at a cheap price and then rebuild them with new parts then this might be for you. Remember, cars that have been damaged by floods come at a very cheap price unless the dealership can prove restoration, so don’t get conned. So I guess the answer to whether a flood-damaged car is worth buying or not is subject to the state of the car, level of damage and your personal interest in the vehicle.


With all the information provided, you should be able to make a wise decision should you find yourself with a flood-damaged car or wanting to buy one.

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest