After the disastrous rains and floods that hit the east coast recently, the rebuilding process will begin for a lot of Sydney residents. Unfortunately for some car owners, that means selling a flood damaged car and passing it off as mint condition to some unsuspecting buyer.

We here at Alpha Car Hire pride ourselves in only commissioning cars that are free from flood water damage. While other outfits may advertise likewise, it pays to be sure when booking a car, especially for long term engagements.

flood damaged car



Any car that has been through a flood is susceptible to mould growth, bacteria, and as a result, will have a very funky odour that will be very hard to get rid of; and don’t get us started on the potential electrical issues that may occur. Cosmetic damage such as rust and corrosion on the paint job can only become apparent up to six months after the rains. This allows car sellers a large window of opportunity in which they can pass off their cars as damage free.

The warning signs below will help you determine if a car has been the victim of a flood any time in the past.

Check the glovebox for a tide mark

If you clean and detail a flood damaged car very meticulously, it can be very hard to tell if has been through a flood recently. However, most people will forget to clean the inside the glove box and can inadvertently leave a tide mark which shows how deep the car was.

It also may be worth checking under the seats, behind the dash, ashtray, and other places that may have been overlooked when cleaning.
Check the tools
Look into the tool pouch. If the tools are exhibiting early signs of rust, or even mud, then you’ll know that something’s up.
Headlights are one of the primary entry points for water, and even mud. Be suspicious of any vehicle with signs of condensation, or if the clarity of the headlights is somewhat compromised.
Do a Smell Test
This one is quite obvious but it still bears mentioning. Do a simple smell test when you enter the car. A mouldy odour will be prevalent and can be very difficult to get rid of after a flood, especially if the vehicle was allowed to dry under the sun.

Also, be a bit suspicious of any vehicle that smells strongly of air fresheners as they could be there to overcompensate for the odour that’s left after a flood.
Other signs of flood damage
signs of flood damaged car

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Other places to look at for signs of flood are behind the dashboard, under the seats, suspension components, the fuse box, under the seat covers, the roof lining, and the air filter element. All of these places can contain evidence of water damage and you would be doing yourself a favour if you spent some time going through them until you’re satisfied.
Check the car’s history
Research has revealed that up to 70% of used car buyers don’t bother to check up on the vehicle’s history before buying it. Failing to do so will only put you at risk.

The first thing you should do is to make sure if the car can be re-registered just to find out if it passed a Written Off Vehicle Inspection.

Next, conduct a more detailed investigation of its history. Before going through with your car purchase, exercise due diligence by performing a vehicle history check at or A nominal fee may be involved, but it’s a small price to pay considering the worst case scenarios involved.

Remember, private owners of flooded vehicles are under no obligation to declare the damage to potential buyers. Additionally, when flood damaged cars move between State borders, doing a check on only one State registry may not include data on whether the vehicle was involved in a flood in other Australian States or Territories. Therefore, a more comprehensive vehicle history check may be in order.

Purchasing a used car will always be a gamble. You can never be too careful in making sure that you’re getting something that you will be living with for the next six years or so. Should you keep encountering highly suspicious vehicles in the market, the second best thing would be to get a Sydney car hire. Alpha Car Hire is one of the largest independent car rental companies along the east coast of Australia, and you can be sure you will be getting the best cars for the lowest prices.