Drawbacks of purchasing a water-damaged vehicle include voiding of the manufacturer's warranty; the possibility of mold, rust and corrosion developing; potential electrical problems; and no resale value. Manufacturers do not honor vehicle warranties when the vehicles suffer flooding or an environmental disaster or are salvage vehicles. Eliminating mold is extremely difficult, and mold is hazardous to health.
Consumers considering the purchase of water-damaged vehicles should look for rust in places such as the vehicle floor, spare tire storage area and throughout the trunk. They should place the cars on lifts to inspect engines from underneath and run engines through computer diagnostic checks. Potential buyers should look for corrosion of computer components behind the dash keeping in mind that each new computer can cost $1,000 or more.
Engines run rough and burn oil excessively when water enters the cylinder walls and rings and creates rust. High water in vehicles can damage electronic windows, seats, airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and ignition switches, necessitating replacement.
Corrosive effects are more aggressive in salt-water-damaged vehicles than in those with fresh-water damage. How long and how deeply vehicles are in water also affect the amount of damage. The value of flooded vehicles is always less than that of vehicles that are not flood-damaged. Water-damaged cars typically have no market value, and about 90 percent of potential vehicle buyers are not interested.