Body Shop Watches for Flood Vehicles

An Arizona professional group wants the state’s drivers keeping eyes open for used vehicles hitting the market after long stays in a body shop garage.

The Arizona Insurance Council turned its attention in early 2013 to unexpected fallout from superstorm Sandy: vehicles hitting the state’s resale market after being totaled out by insurance adjusters due to the east-coast storm’s flood damage.

The nonprofit property-casualty insurance industry group examined the storm’s insurance claim ramifications. Per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, various insurance companies counted around 250,000 vehicles reported as sustaining damage during the early-2013 storm. That total of damaged vehicles doesn’t take into account uninsured vehicles or vehicles with unreported damage.

That leaves windows for a totaled vehicle or flood-damaged one with unreported damage to go up for sale with its previous stint in a body shop flying under the radar. If you perhaps can’t have a licensed body shop professional examine a used vehicle firsthand, make a few key potential damage indicators your priority when giving your new ride a once-over:



Water damage on these should make a potential buyer suspicious of a possibly flood-damaged vehicle. Keep in mind, that signs of water damage may not be immediately apparent before an untrained eye. However, a body shop technician will probably know the telltale signs.


Under ordinary circumstances, water doesn’t typically reach screws in a vehicle console or other interior nooks and crannies. If you spot rusted screws and can’t ascertain a common-sense reason they would’ve been so exposed to water given their placement, then it’s possible that unusual circumstances – such as a flood – let moisture gain its foothold.


Did you spot water stains, sand, silt, mold or mildew beneath floor mats, under the carpet, beneath the headliner cloth, or in other places where substantial water wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – usually accumulate? Check also behind the dashboard. There are just some sections of a car where that much moisture shouldn’t reasonably build up.

A reputable car dealer should have thoroughly vetted a vehicle’s history before it takes its place on the lot. Perform some due diligence beforehand on any dealer with whom you may do business. Additionally, it’s always a sound idea to let a certified mechanic or body shop expert thoroughly examine the car before you buy.

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.