With heavy rainfall like we have had this year we have seen flooding throughout the area that has inundated cars. Many of these end up as salvage and are auctioned off to automobile recycling centers where not all are dismantled and sold as parts but resold to go back on the road. Flooded cars could be a good value for a wise car buyer.
George Aznavorian runs East Coast Auto Source in Bedford County and he looks for “Flood Cars".
“The cars that we’re purchasing that will become cars that go back on the road are typically those that have water that goes no deeper than the bottom of the seat.”
That doesn’t seem like a lot of water but the damage caused can add up quickly and mean the car is often “totaled”. “In Virginia there is a threshold of $3,500 that if a car has $3,500 worth of damage that they can asses then they will take the car and pay a claim, which is paying you off on that car, and then these cars are then able to be purchased by companies like ourselves.”
Aznavorian says flood cars most often are in need of repair or replacement of electronic components.
“…a seat motor control, usually you’ll have an air bag module that’s on the floor board-they should always be replaced-and then you’ll have maybe a a body control module. A body control module is really an accessory module that would cover like your power windows and your power locks.”
Flood cars are sold with a salvage title and the repairs must be completed before they can go back on the road. Some people buy them and do the work themselves while others send the car into the shop for repairs. Either way, they need state approval through a salvage vehicle exam before going back on the road.
"There is a step-by-step process, basically it is a check list, and you tell them what parts and components were replaced. They’ll come out an inspect the vehicle in person and they’ll want to see all the receipts for anything that has been changed in the car.”
Aznavorian says he and his family drive cars that were once salvaged and so a lot of other people.
“I have people that are looking for first cars for their children. We have a lot of people that might want to buy a high-end car but are looking for significant savings over what book value is. “
The caveat of buying a flood car is that they do have a “salvage” title that stays with the vehicle’s history and that is the good thing. It protects the consumer from unscrupulous sellers and provides the buyer with a significant savings.
Aznavorian says the key to putting a flood vehicle back on the road is to make sure it came from a fresh water flood-like those that have happened in Roanoke and Richmond. He says coastal flood cars should be avoided completely because of the persistent and highly corrosiveness of salt water.