There are three major telltale signs of a water-damaged car: straight-line stains inside and out, a moldy-smelling interior and non-functioning electrical systems. Minor signs to watch out for include rusty metal, warped carpet board and diluted engine oil.
To confirm that they're not buying a water damaged car, buyers should perform a background check on the vehicle before finalizing the purchase. Service providers such as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, CarFax and National Insurance Crime Bureau allow buyers to request background information on potential purchases. The vehicle history data supplied by these sources list any flooding or other water-related disaster that the vehicle may have experienced.
Another equally important indicator of water damage is the price of the car for sale, as a heavily lowered price tag is a good sign that the seller wants to unload the car quickly. If the seller can't provide a good reason for the huge discount, it may be best not to purchase the vehicle.
Unwitting buyers of a water-damaged car can potentially face significant repair expenses down the road. Even if there appears to be no initial issue with the car, problems may still present themselves later as the water damage spreads to critical components.