Inspect a Vehicle After Flooding: To Salvage or Claim?

As a result of all the recent flooding in Colorado, many automobiles and off-road vehicles have been exposed to large amounts of water and potential flooding. To see if your car is salvageable, totaled, or just has minor damage, use these tips to determine whether or not it will be more cost effective to save it, or scrap it.

Park Bench Flood

Image Courtesy of FDP

First you should call your insurance company to see if the vehicle is covered against flood damage and if they provide towing and/or rental car services. What you should also do at this time is bring your car to an auto service center or your 4×4 mechanic for a full inspection. They’ll be able to accurately provide you with information on all of the damage to your vehicle.

If you have automotive experience and wish to inspect the vehicle yourself, there are a few things you can look for. First, if you suspect that your car has water in the transmission, engine or in any electrical components, do not attempt to start the motor as this can cause even more damage. One way to tell if water has made its way into these areas is to look for moisture. Moisture may not be visible from the outside, so you’ll need to pull apart your motor and/or transmission and check for milky fluids and around any other moving parts.

An easy way to quickly tell if your vehicle is beyond repair is to look for a high water mark. A car that has been in water for sometime will usually have a water line or mud line caked on the outside. If the water level has risen above the bottom edge of your doors, there is a very good chance that the interior has been soaked and the car should be considered a loss.

Repair costs should be balanced against the value of the vehicle. If it is going to cost more to repair than the vehicle is worth, it may be best to claim it totaled or sell the car with a salvage title, depending on how much the insurance company is willing to give you vs. how much a salvage broker will.

Before making any sort of insurance claims, take detailed pictures of the inside and outside of your vehicle.

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