Beware of Buying Flood-Damaged Cars

Beware of Buying Flood-Damaged Cars

The City of New York urges you to beware of unknowingly buying a flood damaged car. Look for these tell-tale signs:

  • Trust your sense of smell. Musty or moldy smells may be a sign of water damage. A strong air freshener or cleaning solution smell may be an attempt to cover up mildew. Run the air conditioner so you can check the vents.
  • Check the carpeting and upholstery for discoloration. Differences in color, especially if they appear to be stains, may indicate water damage. Be aware of used cars with brand-new upholstery.
  • Examine the exterior for water damage. Check for fogging inside headlamps or taillights and dampness inside the wheel well. Look for a water line in the engine compartment or the trunk.
  • Inspect under the car. Look for rust and flaking metal.
  • Hire a mechanic to do a full inspection and request a car history report by going to the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Cost is $7 or less. Report includes federally mandated information on the vehicle's status from junk yards, salvage yards, auto recyclers, insurance carriers, and most state motor vehicle departments.
  • File a complaint with DCA about used car dealerships that try to sell flood-damaged vehicles. File a complaint online or call 311.

Additional Resources




Education Campaign. Learn about DCA's public awareness campaign to help consumers avoid predatory lending in the used car industry.

On June 26, 2018, DCA announced that all used car dealers in New York City are now required to provide consumers with a Consumer Bill of Rights, a financing disclosure form, where applicable, and a cancellation option—all of which must be in the language used to negotiate the contract. Read the press release. Download the Used Car Consumer Bill of Rights in:





11/2018