Flooded Vehicles

How do you not get duped into purchasing a flood damaged vehicle?

Hurricane Harvey damaged 500,000 to 1 million cars alone when it hit Texas and the surrounding states – double the number of vehicles damaged by Katrina. Those numbers do not include Irma and Jose that hit Florida and the East coast of the U.S. And do not forget Maria in Puerto Rico. Those numbers do not include the damage done to buses, RV’s, boats, and Semi’s. Many of these damaged vehicles and boats will end up in all parts on the country for sale to unsuspecting consumers and businesses as reported by many consumer advocates warn.

So how do you prevent this from happening? What do you look for when you are purchasing a used or pre-owned vehicle?

To find out, we went to the Experts to learn how to avoid buying that flood damaged vehicle – CARFAX – Remember – “Show Me the Carfax?” Well, we did, and here is the information that they have provided.

Telltale Signs of Flooding

  • A musty odor in the interior, which can sometimes be covered with a strong air-freshener
  • Upholstery or carpeting which is loose, new, stained or doesn’t match
  • Damp carpets
  • Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals or inside the hood and trunk latches
  • Mud or silt in the glove compartment or under the seats
  • Brittle wires under the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights, exterior lights or instrument panel

Flood Damage Checklist

  • Turn on the ignition and check all instrument panel lights illuminate
  • Test the interior and exterior lights, air conditioning, windshield wipers, radio, turn signals and heater repeatedly
  • View the full CARFAX Vehicle History Report to check for reported flood damage or signs of salvage title fraud
  • Get the car checked thoroughly by a trusted mechanic

How to Avoid Flood Damaged Cars

In more ways than one, water is your car’s best friend. The cooling system uses the stuff to regulate engine temperatures and regular use of a soapy bucket of H20 and a sponge can go a long way toward keeping your pride and joy looking tip-top.

Unfortunately, water can also be your vehicles worst enemy. Damaging flood waters can render a valuable automobile worthless in a matter of seconds.

Often, flood damaged cars are reported to insurance agencies and through an assessment process the buyer receives compensation to cover losses. While many flooded vehicles are then sent to the auto recycler for dismantling, other vehicles are branded by state agencies as flood damaged and a salvage title is assigned. Once identified, flood damaged cars can once again enter the sales market, showing up on dealer lots or in driveways with for sale signs on the windshield. The truth is, refurbished flood damaged vehicles can be difficult to identify apart from trusted documentation.

While the majority of those refurbished vehicles are sold with full disclosure of the damage, there are also unscrupulous companies and individuals who will attempt to profit at the expense of others by withholding information or intentionally hiding a car’s history through a process called “title washing.” Whether they simply leave information off the table or deliberately work to erase the car’s history, they will attempt to sell the vehicle as if it never went for a damaging swim.

While there is no absolute fail-proof technique to avoid a financially devastating purchase of a misrepresented flood vehicle, steps can be taken to assure that the car you are buying lives up to all the seller’s promises and hype.

Find a Reputable Seller

You’ve done hours of research online, consulted friends and family, window shopped at parking lots and in traffic, and settled on a particular model or two. The next important step you need to take is finding a reputable seller.

Well-established dealerships are not in business for short term financial profit. If your community has a family-owned dealer that has been in the same location for three decades, there is a good chance they aren’t going to risk everything to make a few quick dollars selling misrepresented flood vehicles. Most great dealerships will add the extra security of providing you with a CARFAX Vehicle History Report that clearly documents a detailed history of the vehicle. This high level of transparency along with recommendations from other customers can go a long way in assuring that a potential vehicle purchase is clear of hidden damage.

Ask good questions, too. Specifically, inquire if the vehicle was ever damaged in a flood. Get your answers in writing and if the seller is unwilling to provide clear evidence, move on. There are plenty of other dealers who are more than willing to go the extra mile to guarantee that you aren’t buying a vehicle with a salvage title.

The same basic rules work when buying from an individual. Once again, obtaining a vehicle history report goes a long way in confirming that the car you are purchasing is clear of flood damage. Inspecting the title can also help. Check for a stamp that reads “flood” or “salvage.”

Inspect the Interior

Once you’ve determined from the seller that the vehicle is clear of flood damage, take a little time to confirm the reports by inspecting the car firsthand. The following steps are simple to work through and will provide yet another level of confidence before you hand over your cash.

Thoroughly inspecting for flood damage has a secondary benefit of offering a systematic approach for examining the vehicle for other potential deal-breaking, non-flood related issues.

The easiest flood damage test is also the most telling. Close all the windows and doors let the car sit for a few minutes and then crack open the door a take a good sniff. Mildew and mold have a distinct smell, and even trace amounts of either one is pretty apparent if the car is sealed. If you have a friend or family member who regularly complains about smells that everyone else seems oblivious to, bring them along. The “Do you smell that?” question they frequently ask might save you thousands of dollars.

You should also beware of cars that smell too good, since a spray-on fabric freshener can mask odors. If the 5-year-old minivan smells like “fresh mountain rain” make sure that it really isn’t actually flood waters that the scent is masking.

If the car passes the sniff test it is time to take off the gloves and give the car’s interior a quick pat down to reveal potentially damaging hidden issues. Damp spots under the seats are of particular interest; if you can lift the carpet and inspect the padding, even better. While it is easy to dry the carpet’s surface, foam or jute padding can retain moisture for years.

During your inspection look for previous water damage evidence by blotchy water stains. Just remember, stains do not necessarily mean the vehicle has been in a flood. Any parent of a toddler can attest to that.

Don’t forget to check the trunk, either. Take out the spare tire and check for moisture or sitting water. While there is a slight chance of a bad seal around the trunk lid, water or debris found in the trunk area is a good sign that your potential purchase went for a swim.

As you are working through the car looking for moisture, check for signs of corrosion. Unfinished metal surfaces, like the springs hidden underneath many vehicle seats, will corrode even if the car was only under water for a short time. Look at the ends of exposed bolts. Are they shiny and new or do they look like they’ve been sitting outside? Door jambs and any other areas where water can sit will be especially telling. Bubbling of the paint in areas not exposed to the elements should be taken seriously; even if the car wasn’t in a flood you could be looking at extensive rust damage that may cause a vehicle to fail inspections and be dangerous to drive.

Take a good look at the vehicle’s instrument panel. Is there trapped moisture behind the plastic lenses? Check the glove box for moisture and debris. Grab a flashlight and look in the console and under the dashboard.

The car smells great, seems rust free and is dry as a bone, now what? While there is a good chance that the vehicle is just fine, don’t rule out the chance that parts or all of the carpet or interior have been replaced to hide damage. If a section of the carpet or upholstery is a different shade or has less wear than the surrounding fabric, there may be a reasonable explanation, but it may be the sign of undisclosed refurbishment. Once again, cars get dirty and worn and a dealer looking for top profits may replace worn carpet or seating surfaces, but they will be proud of this fact and disclose it quickly and earnestly. What we are looking for is inconsistencies and exposing potential secrets or unknowns.

Check Under the Hood

The vehicle’s interior is the best place to start, but tell-tale signs of water damage can also reside under the hood. Look for debris that may have washed in and deposited itself in the engine bay’s nooks and crannies. Anyone who enjoys a shade tree covering their driveway knows that leaves often sneak into the oddest places, but finding unexplained leaves, silt and sand inside the spark plug wire cavities is concerning and likely the result of flood waters.

While you are under the hood check the engine oil by pulling the dipstick. When oil mixes with even a small amount of water it becomes murky, like a melted chocolate milkshake. If the oil looks a little suspicious start the car and check it again, sometimes the water will settle above the oil if the car has been sitting for a while and turning the engine over will whip it all back up into a tell-tale mess. It is important to note that any water in the oil is a bad sign. Even if the car has not been in a flood, water in the engine oil may be a sign of major mechanical damage. Either way, if the oil looks like it is dripping with melted ice cream, you should move on. If the vehicle is equipped with a transmission dip stick, check that too.

Take a few minutes and inspect the paper air filter. Most cars only require a few clips to be undone or some screws to be removed to expose the filter. Once paper is wet it never looks the same. Think of it as that little strip in your cellphone that turns pink if you drop it in a puddle. If the filter shows signs of water stains you will want to keep looking for another vehicle.

After you’ve inspected the interior and under the hood, take a walk around the vehicle and look for signs of moisture in the light fixtures. While it may well be a leaking seal, fogged-up lights are a good sign that the vehicle was submerged under water. Get close and inspect for tiny drilled holes that may have been added to drain flood water.

Take a Test Drive

Any vehicle purchase requires a lengthy test drive. If you are seriously considering buying a vehicle and you don’t drive it, you are only asking for trouble. Obviously there are exceptions, non-running vintage vehicles for instance, but if you are purchasing a daily driver you need to drive it before making a purchase. A part of your test drive should include testing the vehicle’s electrical systems, as they are prone to water damage.

When you start the car do you notice any smoke or odd smells? Listen for irregular noises, such as strained warning buzzers. Try every accessory to see if it works properly, including turn signals, windshield wipers, headlight switches and high beams. If you can switch it on or off, you should. Does everything work properly? Turn on the vehicle’s entertainment system and listen to the audio. Like the air filter, paper speaker cones don’t take to water very well. If the audio is distorted or the system doesn’t work, it could be the sign that the car was once being used as a boat.

Ask an Expert

It never hurts to get a second opinion, and there are reputable experts available to inspect your potential vehicle purchase for a small fee. Often, they can spot water damage in minutes, but if the car is particularly suspect they may remove a door panel or check hidden electrical or mechanical components to see if there is evidence that the original refurbishment might have missed.

Bringing your car to a trusted mechanic is a good idea regardless. The nominal upfront costs will pale in comparison to the financial devastation that can result in buying a car that is worth less money than you paid or worse, is dangerous to drive.

So, it’s safe to say, after reading the information provided by CARFAX, you better be prepared to do your homework. Unfortunately for the buyer there are unscrupulous sellers out there trying to put these damaged cars out on the used car market.

(NOTE: The information in this article was obtained from CARFAX and is not associated Just Gone Systems. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These instructions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a professional.)

So, what if you were one of the unfortunate to have already have bought a water damaged vehicle. Well, the Just Gone Sanitizing and Deodorization System can help. The Just Gone Sanitizing and Deodorization System sanitizes and deodorizes by first using an advanced “Dry Fog” system that gets everywhere to remove harmful germs, bacteria, odors, allergens and indoor contaminants without leaving any harmful residues. It doesn’t use harsh toxic chemicals, fragrances nor does it require time consuming manual wipe downs or rinsing. Even delicate surfaces and the heating and cooling systems can be sanitized against a multitude of germs, allergens, odors and indoor contaminates in a fraction of the time and with the highest degree of effectiveness.

Second, utilizing our Patented Zoono Technology, our surface protector provides a defensive shield against mold, bacteria, and viruses. Zoono is antimicrobial nanotechnology that uses intelligent molecules to actively and consistently reduce pathogen loads on surfaces by using physics to kill germs instead of chemistry. What does that mean? It means that Zoono Technology is less toxic than Vitamin C, yet providing you with the Peace of Mind that your vehicle is odor free, and all odors and bacterial problems are effectively eliminated for up to 90 days. Nothing works as well as the Just Gone Sanitizing and Deodorizing System.

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Top rated FAQ Questions

How does Just Gone Sanitizing & Deodorizing System™ (Chlorine Dioxide) Work?

Most people have never heard of Chlorine Dioxide (Clo2). Or else they think its bleach (which is Sodium Hypochlorite or NsCIO). Like bleach, Clo2 is used as a sanitizer and bleaching agent. Unlike bleach, Clo2 is safe to use, does not leave toxic residue. Chlorine Dioxide oxygenates products rather than chlorinating them. Clo2 is considered a “friendly” Deodorizer, Sanitizer and Disinfectant.

There are a lot of pathogenic organisms out there that can cause chaos.
Clo2 is highly effective on most bacteria, virus, fungi, mold spores, algae, and blood borne pathogens, protozoa, yeast and biofilms.
Some names you might recognize are;

Legionella – Salmonella – Cryptosporidium – Giardia Cysts – Coliforms
Listeria – Shigella – Staph – Norovirus – Influenza – Anthrax – Cholera
E-coli – Hepatitis – Hepa Virus – EBOLA – C Diff – MARS – MERSA

Is Chlorine Dioxide non-toxic? What about residue?

Chlorine Dioxide is residue free as the active ingredients break down to naturally found products in the environment, primarily salt and water. It is environmentally friendly and has no harsh reactions on your skin.

Can Chlorine Dioxide be used on hard Surfaces?

Absolutely, it is ideal for use as a hard surface cleaner because with minimal surface time it is highly effective against many different organisms.

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Find a DEALER near you.

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Zoono Mini-Fogger

The Zoono fogger is a quick drying formulation that incorporates the proven, unique Zoono antimicrobial technology.

This product is ideal for occasions where a fast acting, antimicrobial product is required in order to minimize downtime when treating computer keyboards, desk phones, photocopiers, printers, headsets and microphones plus touch points such as door handles, light switches etc.

The Zoono Aerosol’s unique antimicrobial technology provides maximum protection to high risk areas.

Each fogger covers 200 square feet – $29.99

Zoono Hand Sanitizer GermFree24

As it’s name implies, Zoono’s Hand Sanitizer GermFree24 utilizes the unique Zoono technology and incorporates it into the Ultimate Protection Hand Sanitizer.

Unlike traditional hand sanitizers that kill germs only while they are wet, Zoono starts killing germs immediately and then keeps working, protecting hands from germs for up to 24 hours!

This is important news especially when you consider that our hands are the #1 vector for germ transmission. In other words: clean hands = healthy family.

Better still, Zoono is a FDA Compliant nontoxic*, water based antiseptic – it is less toxic than Vitamin C and won’t dry hands out like alcohol-based products.

Nothing works better and lasts longer to protect your family’s hands than Zoono.

Active ingredient is less toxic than Vitamin C

Hand Sanitizer – 5.07 oz. Bottle $11.99

Swamp Juice Beads.

Need an alternative to harsh chemicals or toxic alcohols in your bug repellent? Try our all-natural SwampJuice Beads!

Formulated using Eco-Solutions’ patented process, SwampJuice provides a safe alternative to common, chemical-filled bug sprays. SwampJuice is safe for kids and pets. SwampJuice can protect your entire family from mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus and encephalitis.

Laboratory tests from Serra Research show that SwampJuice exhibited outstanding repellency. After 45 minutes both LIB and BF reported 100% Repellency. To clarify, LIB stands for mosquitoes that “Land with the Intent to Bite” and BF stands for “Biting and Feeding.” In other words, SwampJuice is highly effective at preventing mosquito bites.

Each small, but concentrated, bottle of SwampJuice has the power to safely and effectively repel insects without harsh chemicals.

  • DEET-free
  • GMO-free
  • Non-irritating

*SwampJuice cannot be sold in Alabama.

Swamp Juice Beads – 2 Jar Pack $17.98

Swamp juice 

Swamp Juice Insect Repellent Spray. Need an alternative to harsh chemicals or toxic alcohols in your bug spray? Try our all-natural SwampJuice spray!

Formulated using Eco-Solutions’ patented process, SwampJuice provides a safe alternative to common, chemical-filled bug sprays. SwampJuice is safe for kids and pets. SwampJuice can protect your entire family from mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus and encephalitis.

Laboratory tests from Serra Research show that SwampJuice exhibited outstanding repellency. After 45 minutes both LIB and BF reported 100% Repellency. To clarify, LIB stands for mosquitoes that “Land with the Intent to Bite” and BF stands for “Biting and Feeding.” In other words, SwampJuice is highly effective at preventing mosquito bites.

Each small, but concentrated, bottle of SwampJuice has the power to safely and effectively repel insects without harsh chemicals.

  • DEET-free
  • GMO-free
  • Non-irritating

*SwampJuice cannot be sold in Alabama.

Swamp Juice – 2 oz. Bottle $4.98 

Air-Fresh 101

GOT MOLD, MILDEW, ODORS?

When you’re looking for an air freshener that can kill odors at their source, chlorine dioxide gas is a smart choice. While producing chlorine dioxide (ClO2) used to require expensive generators, Eco-Solutions has developed a unique product, AirFresh 101, which can create this chemical quickly and for an affordable price. When the contents of AirFresh 101’s are activated in water, they produce a slow release ClO2 vapor which can produce and release chlorine dioxide for up to 30 days.

Depending on the area size and vapor concentration, this chlorine dioxide air freshener will eliminate odor-causing smoke, hydrogen sulfide, pet odors, and much more.

Best of all, AirRelief is safe to use on nearly all materials, making it an ideal air freshener for many locations, including:

  • RVs
  • Boat cabins
  • Cars
  • Basements
  • Public bathrooms/locker rooms
  • Hotel/home owners and senior living rooms
  • Musky areas
  • And almost any other enclosed space

In addition to AirFresh 101, we also offer Aqua-Tab tablets that can produce ClO2 solutions perfect for eliminating odor on many surfaces or in small-scale water treatment operations. All of these stabilized chlorine dioxide products ship in airtight packets.

Air Fresh 101 – 3 Pack $12.00