Home / News / If Your Car Is Damaged in a Storm, Do This Not That When It Comes to Floods

If Your Car Is Damaged in a Storm, Do This Not That When It Comes to Floods

Dec 01, 2023Dec 01, 2023


As hard as it might be, one of the first things you should not do when your car has been submerged either partially or fully in water is not to panic and start reacting rashly, which in all likelihood will just make matters worse.

That's the message in a recent Consumer Reports newsletter to help consumers cope with a car that has been flood damaged during a storm and deal with what needs to be done to make the best of a bad situation.

Those measures include the following do's and don'ts:

1. Assess the damage---Do not start a flooded vehicle without first having it inspected by a qualified mechanic. Attempting to start a vehicle that has been exposed to heavy or high-water exposure could cause more damage to occur…including a possible fire.

Do take photos of the vehicle and the area around it to help with processing a claim and assist the claims adjuster with a proper assessment of the damage. Your idea of what "totaled" means might differ from the claim adjuster's policy guidelines.

2. Protect your car from further damage---Now is the time to ensure that the damage from the flood is solely from the flooding and not afterward. Tape over cracked windows, cover up busted out windows, or just bungee cord a cheap plastic tarp over the entire vehicle until inspections can be done.

3. Read your insurance policy---"Contact your agent or insurance company and let them know that your vehicle has been flooded," says Myles Mitchom, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance in the newsletter. Not all insurance policies are the same. Go over your policy and then call your insurance company to answer questions and begin the claims process.

4. Determine whether your car can be repaired or needs to be trashed---Two ways to approach this is to either have a mobile mechanic show up at the scene and do an initial assessment, or have it towed to a repair shop where the vehicle can be inspected thoroughly for potential damage and to ensure that the electronics involving safety features are still functional. Since both will cost you money, you might as well skip the less-thorough mobile inspection and have your car towed for a complete inspection. Only with a thorough inspection with all the facts and estimates provided, can you decide on your best option.

5. Do a Little Preventive Maintenance Right Away---if your car is potentially savable and a better economic option for you versus trashing it, a little initial preventive maintenance toward water damage control on the upholstery and flooring can help avoid stinky-car syndrome from mildewed and molding fabrics. Lifting the floor carpeting and running a fan across the fabric can help dry it out before mold sets in. Replacing all cabin air system filters is a good idea as well.


The temptation for someone to recoup their losses from a flood damaged car by reselling it to an unsuspecting used car shopper is a real problem that leads to thousands of cases of automotive-related fraud yearly.

To help you avoid buying a flood damaged car and find out some of the tricks used to resurrect a totaled vehicle back to life, here are some very informative articles to follow that are beneficial to used car shoppers:

• How To Spot a Used Car Being Flipped After a Hurricane

• Used Car Seller Tricks to Resurrect a Flood Damaged Car

• An Important Used Car Hidden Damage Warning for Used Car Shoppers

COMING UP NEXT: Ford EcoBoost Engine Replacement Issue with These Model Years You Need to Know

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Unsplash

FLOOD DAMAGE DO’S AND DON’TS 1. Assess the damage 2. Protect your car from further damage 3. Read your insurance policy . Determine whether your car can be repaired or needs to be trashed Visit Torque News homepage for more stories. 5. Do a Little Preventive Maintenance Right Away HOW TO AVOID BUYING A FLOOD DAMAGED CAR COMING UP NEXT: Follow Torque News on