DENVER (CBS4) – Auto body shops are busy repairing vehicles that were flooded in Wednesday’s storm, and a car doesn’t have to be underwater to be totaled.
If the water gets up over the floor board of a car there could be significant damage, if not a total loss. There’s electrical wiring under the carpet and in the doors, metal can corrode and mold can start forming. The problem is — unlike hail — water damage may not show up until the car is on a used car lot.
At Denver Auto Body, they’re getting flooded with flooded cars, and manager Jerime Monroe says in many cases repairs cost more than the car is worth.
“Every electrical component needs to be replaced, every wiring component needs to be replaced,” Monroe said.
“The tough part with flood damage is that it’s not that visible,” insurance industry expert Carole Walker said.
Walker says that’s why it’s important for owners of cars that were flooded to call their insurer right away and file a claim if necessary. In many cases she says damage is covered.
“Think about optional comprehensive coverage for your car. That’s what’s going to cover you for hail damage, for flood damage. or if tree fell on your car,” Walker said.
She says car buyers also need to beware because flooded cars often resurface on used car lots. By law dealers have to tell buyers a car was salvaged, but not why it was.
“If the water gets high enough look for condensation in headlights, in the bottom of doors rust will form,” Monroe said about trying to see if a car was once flooded.
Monroe said once-flooded cars can be dangerous to drive because there’s a “huge risk for potential fires.”
“When water gets on these wires and inside the plugs, it may be fine right now, but you’ll start to have electrical issues down the road,” he said.
Even water getting in the tailpipe can cause serious damage. The catalytic converter can be ruined — a $1,000 repair — and it may not be noticed until failing an emissions test.