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Hurricane

Last year, hurricanes, storms and high tides battered states across the county, and many consumers experienced flooding in their homes or vehicles.  Because flood damage to a vehicle may not be as noticeable, we put together some tips that consumers should review in the event of the risk of coastal flooding this winter season.

What to look for:

When you first get to your car, the experts agree you should not attempt to start your car. If your car was submerged the salt water could cause corrosion to various components and starting it could increase the likelihood of engine damage. Carefully disconnect the battery and look for a high-water mark on the interior of the car. A water line will give you a sense of how severe the flooding was and how bad the damages may be. Common indicators of water damage may include water stains, mold, mud or sand under the carpets or seats, a wet air filter, water droplets on the oil dipstick, rusty metal inside the car, musty odors, mud and grit in the spare tire compartment or under the hood, oxidation on any metals, which manifests as a white powdery substance, or brittle wires under the dashboard, speakers, or hood.

Contact your insurance company and explain to them that your car may have been flooded and check if there are any requirements you must follow. Your insurer may want you to take photographs of the vehicle or wait for an appraiser.

What to do next:

Whether you attempt the repairs on your own or have your vehicle towed to a mechanic, it is important to act quickly. Roll down the windows to help dry out the interior and start trying to absorb any moisture. Various electrical components will likely need to be replaced, along with the fluids to ensure they are free from water—this includes the gas in your gas tank.  You should also wash your car to remove any excess salt that could lead to corrosion.

Once repaired, the history of a car will be easily accessible to insurance companies.  As a result, if you attempt to sell the vehicle, it will likely sell for much less than it would have before the flooding.  Insurance companies may also be reluctant to provide comprehensive and collision coverage after an incident like this, because insurers are unable to determine the vehicles value or the completion of any repairs done.

For more tips on how to spot flood damage and what to do in the event your vehicle is flooded, check out these resources from Autozone and AAA.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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