There are several different factors to look out for in order to spot a used automobile that has been in a flood. According to a 2005 article in the Arizona Daily Star, buyers may keep an eye out for the following warning signs:
"There is no completely foolproof way to test a vehicle for flood damage.
But here is how to check for flood damage in an automobile before you buy it.
Check the vehicle’s title history, this may state if the vehicle is flood damaged.
Examine the interior engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from submersion.
Check for recently shampooed carpet.
Check under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning leaks.
Look for rusting inside the car. Check beneath interior carpeting and inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue. There should not be any evidence of mold or musty odors in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
Check for rust on any screws in the console or other areas that water would not reach unless the vehicle had been submerged.
Inspect the wiring system. Look for rust, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
Inspect the undercarriage for rust and flaking metal."
“Buyers beware, flooded used cars surfacing.” Arizona Daily Star. September 17, 2005. Page D1.