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What To Do With A Flood Damaged Vehicle

In a recent installment we looked at the problem of flood damaged vehicles making their way onto used car lots across the northeastern US in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.  Now we turn our attention to the steps car owners should take if their personal vehicles are damaged by flooding.

The best way to protect a vehicle is to park it on high ground, somewhere that is likely to be out of range of a flood. Flooding is unpredictable, so this is always the first and best option.

If your car does get caught up in flood waters, abandon it and move to a safe area. If possible, use your phone camera to document what is happening to your vehicle. This will come in handy when filing an insurance claim.

Once the water has subsided, do not attempt to open or start the vehicle. This will sometimes trigger a locking mechanism. Have the car towed or placed on a car carrier to move it to a secure location or repair shop. The vehicle should be checked for engine breakdowns and especially block damage. Block damage means the engine has to be replaced.

Keep in mind that flood damage will drastically impact a vehicle’s trade in or resale value.  The extent of the damage will determine the level of depreciation.  Normal depreciation for a vehicle is 10% per year, and even if the car is repaird, this would probably go down to a 20% per year of the car’s original value.

The best option in cases like this is to trade the car, and be upfront about the damage the car suffered. You may still be able to get a decent deal on a replacement vehicle.  Some car manufacturers have auto-exchange programs in place. The company will then re sell the vehicle as a pre owned, salvage title, or flood damaged car. This is legal as long as full disclosure is made.

Floods can have long lasting effects on all of your property, but cars tend to suffer the most water damage. Take proper precautions before a flood and let the professionals take over after a flood to ensure that you get the best possible resolution to your flooding problems.

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