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CARFAX: Watch Out for Flooded Vehicles After Hurricanes

CARFAX Data Shows a 9% Increase in Flood-Damaged Cars Returned to Roads

CENTREVILLE, Va. (September 8, 2020) – It’s hurricane season, and that means more waterlogged vehicles may resurface around the country. Annual CARFAX data shows that 446,836 flood-damaged cars are on the roads in 2020, and that number is expected to rise in Hurricane Laura’s wake. CARFAX data suggests Laura potentially damaged as many as 5,000 vehicles. This nationwide surge can put unsuspecting buyers at risk. Texas leads the nation in flood-damaged cars, but CARFAX research shows these vehicles show up in states where flooding might not be top of mind for car shoppers.

“It’s important for all car shoppers to do their homework because these flood-damaged cars surface in every corner of the country,” said Faisal Hasan, CARFAX General Manager of Data. “Con men can quickly clean up these cars up, move them and then resell them. Once a car has been waterlogged, it will never be the same. These cars literally rot from the inside out, and the mechanical, electrical or safety systems can fail at any time.”

That’s what happened to Carole Ross, a California motorist. “We didn’t even own our vehicle for two hours before it broke down. We were driving home from the dealership when it broke down. We ran a CARFAX Report while we were on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, and that’s when we saw the car had been in a flood in Louisiana a few years ago.”

Vehicles reported as flood damaged by entities such as Departments of Motor Vehicles or insurance companies are in use in every state. These 10 states have the most, and all of them have seen an increase since 2019:

Flooded Car Statistics Chart CARFAX With Title

To help protect consumers, CARFAX offers a free Flood Check® tool, a national map that shows where flood cars have washed up, and a flood damage checklist at carfax.com/flood.

We’ve also included a list of the 7 telltale signs of flooding:

  1. A musty odor in the interior, which sellers sometimes try to cover with a strong air-freshener
  2. Upholstery or carpeting that may be loose, new, stained or doesn’t seem to match the rest of the interior
  3. Damp carpets
  4. Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals or inside the hood and trunk latches
  5. Mud or silt in the glove compartment or under the seats
  6. Brittle wires under the dashboard
  7. Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights, exterior lights or instrument panel

Editor’s note: Flood-damaged vehicle statistics for your area are available upon request. Interviews with a used car expert from Carfax also are available anytime. Please contact Emilie Voss at EmilieVoss@carfax.com or call 703-934-2664 ext. 4462.

2020 Flood Infographic Laura


CARFAX, part of IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO), helps millions of people every day confidently shop, buy, service and sell used cars with innovative solutions powered by CARFAX vehicle history information. The expert in vehicle history since 1984, CARFAX provides exclusive services like CARFAX Used Car Listings, CARFAX Car Care, CARFAX History-Based Value and the flagship CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ to consumers and the automotive industry. CARFAX owns the world’s largest vehicle history database and is nationally recognized as a top workplace by The Washington Post and Glassdoor.com. Shop, Buy, Service, Sell – Show me the CARFAX™. Based in London, IHS Markit is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.