Administering the Laws and Regulations to the Motor Vehicle Dealers of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Detecting Water Damage

While there is no sure method to test for vehicle flood damage, experts offer several inspection tips that may help detect significant water damage.


The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) offers 10 inspection tips that may be used to detect significant water damage. While these inspection suggestions will not detect flood damage in every case, they do provide some information that may help to protect consumers from purchasing a vehicle damaged by water or flood. Mechanics at dealerships or repair shops can also be helpful in inspecting used vehicles.

To identify vehicles that have flood damage, as well as stolen or salvaged vehicles, check the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) Database. NICB’s VINCheck is a service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by cooperating NICB members. To perform a search a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is required. A maximum of five VINCheck searches can be conducted within a 24 hour period.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has provided two great articles on protecting yourself and for spotting water damaged vehicles: