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Hurricane Ida Wreaks Havoc on Used Car Market

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AiM Mobile Inspections helps consumers and dealers avoid storm damaged cars and trucks that are set to flood the market

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 14, 2021) Hurricane Ida left a destructive path of flood waters stretching from the southeast to the northeast, wreaking havoc in communities by damaging vehicles, homes, businesses and property. In the storms’ aftermath, consumers in the market for used cars need to be wary of flood-damaged vehicles now and through 2022.

Flood-damaged automobiles will wind up on the used car market, in auctions and on dealer lots, all around the country as desperate owners with a lot of equity in their vehicles try to salvage whatever value they can from a vehicle inundated by floodwaters.

Used car shoppers need to know how to spot flood damage vehicles no matter where they live, because these cars are going to end up on a dealer lot from coast to coast,�?? said AiM Mobile Inspections’ Jason Soriano, who has nearly 30 years of experience inspecting vehicles. “Flood damaged cars are never the same as before.�??

AiM Mobile Inspections and its team of more than 600 full-time inspectors review vehicles throughout the United States, providing detailed condition reports for clients ranging from consumers, dealers and auctions to automotive manufacturers. AiM’s independent, 150-point inspection clearly identifies problems on vehicles for buyers and sellers. The company has instructed its inspectors to pay particular attention to flood damage due to this year's severe weather.

It's like 2011 all over again with flood-damaged vehicles trickling into the used car marketplace, except this year has been especially tough on dealers and car buyers,�?? said Eric Widmer, cofounder and senior vice president of sales and marketing at AiM. “With the recent shortage of new vehicles, the used vehicle supply chain has been the industry’s go-to marketplace, but now, it’ll be constricted even more. Dealers and consumers should be on alert so they don’t have the wool pulled over their eyes on a flood-damaged vehicle.�??

Many states issue a flood or salvage title to a vehicle that has been submerged or flood-damaged, information which can be found on a vehicle history report. Consumers concerned about flood damage should refer to the history report and also be ready to do some investigating of their own.

However, some sellers may try to unload their car or truck before a flood or salvage title appears on a vehicle's history report. To combat this possibility, Soriano offered these warning signs to help identify flood damage in a vehicle:

  • A musty odor in the vehicle, which may be from moldy carpeting or padding. If possible, pull up the carpeting to see how far water may have risen in the vehicle, and also if any moisture remains.
  • Mud in the seat belt tracks or seat belt tensioners.
  • Water or condensation in the headlights or taillights. Soriano notes this could also be due to an accident, but water in these areas could also be a tip-off to flood-related problems.
  • Water in the spare tire well in a vehicle’s trunk. “Water in the spare tire well, is a sign we need to look a little further," said Soriano.
  • A sagging headliner in the interior, particularly on a late-model vehicle.
  • Look under the seats. "I found a fish under a backseat," said Soriano, who was inspecting cars at Port Newark in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy struck. "It was pretty obvious sign the car had been under water."
  • Corrosion in the vehicle's undercarriage, such as on brake lines or around the fuel tank. When corrosion appears near the top of the springs or shock towers are corroded, these are signs of flood-related damage.

A car's engine, electronics, fuel system, airbags and brakes are all extremely susceptible to flood water," said Soriano. "Its extremely important to find any water damage before you invest your money in a used car, and a professional inspection will help identify flood damage no matter how a seller tries to hide it.�??

out AiM

Long Beach, Calif.-based AiM (Alliance Inspection Management) was founded in 2005 to inspect the condition of new and used vehicles from bumper to bumper. AiM's national team of more than 600 inspectors and auditors are equipped with leading hardware and software designed to provide consistent, reliable and timely vehicle information. AiM, which has auto manufacturers, rental fleets, dealers, auction companies, finance companies and consumers among its clientele, has performed more than 165 million vehicle inspections over the past 9 years. For more information, please visit

CARFAX: As Many As 212,000 Vehicles Damaged By Hurricane Ida

CENTREVILLE, Va., Sept. 16, 2021 ; In the wake of Hurricane Ida and other intense storms across the United States, consumers need to be on alert for flooded vehicles resurfacing on the used car market. CARFAX data suggests widespread flooding from Hurricane Ida – centered around New York City, New Jersey, and Louisiana – potentially damaged as many as 212,000 vehicles.

That's on top of 378,000 flood-damaged cars that CARFAX data shows were already on the road in 2021. Texas continues to lead the nation in the number of flood-damaged cars on the road today, but CARFAX data shows water-damaged vehicles appear even in states where flooding isn't common.

"Our data suggests that unsuspecting buyers everywhere are at risk of winding up with a previously flooded car," said Chris Basso, CARFAX spokesperson. "The real danger is that these cars may look fine and run well for a while, but sooner rather than later major problems are likely to occur. Flooded cars literally rot from the inside out and the damage is often difficult for untrained eyes to detect. Together with our dealers, CARFAX is making the necessary resources available to help ensure consumers avoid unknowingly buying one of these waterlogged wrecks."

Flood-damaged vehicles are in use in every state, but CARFAX data shows these 10 states have the most:

















South Carolina






New Jersey



North Carolina





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

We've also included a list of the seven telltale signs of a flooded car:

  1. A musty odor in the interior, which sellers sometimes try to cover with a strong air-freshener
  2. Loose, stained, or mismatched upholstery and carpeting
  3. Damp carpets
  4. Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals, or inside the hood and trunk latches
  5. Dried 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: Statistics on flood-damaged cars specifically for your area are available upon request. Interviews with a used car expert from CARFAX also are available at any time. Please contact

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 Shop, Buy, Service, Sell – Show me the CARFAX™. Based in London, IHS Markit is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.