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Car Salvage: How to Sell Your Flooded Car for Cash

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

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The number one source of destruction in a Hurricane isn’t the wind, but the flooding. While water might give humans life, it can also cause extreme damage to both life and property.

In Texas, the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was historic. Floods devastated Houston, one of America’s most populated cities, and it is still in the process of recovery. Many people are wondering what they can do with their damaged property.

Vehicle owners face hard decisions after the storm. They might think that their car is a total loss because of water damage. Selling to a car salvage company can fix this problem, however.

If you want to turn your flooded car into the cash you need, read on for information on how to sell your vehicle today.

What A Flooded Car Means

If your car gets flooded or submerged in water, you should have it checked by a technician. Do this before attempting to start it. Flood water is not only dirty but often filled with salt.

If you start your car, this water will spread to every part of your engine. The dirt and salt cause severe damage and accelerates the natural corrosion of the parts. The engine, electrical system, and transmission will face failure due to the water.

In many cases, your car will have to be taken apart and cleaned to run properly. This procedure is expensive and often costs more than the car is worth. Most insurance agencies will declare the vehicle a total loss, and they will pay it off instead of paying for the service.

With the ability to run VIN numbers online and see cars that have water damage, selling it to a dealer or individual isn’t an option. In many states, if you sell a car without disclosing that information, the buyer can sue you for the price of the sale and damages.

There are only two good options available. You can pay more than the car is worth to have it fixed or sell it for cash to a car salvage company.

1. Get A Good Look at the Damage

The first thing you want to do is check everything out. A flooded car still has parts that might be of use to you. If you have another vehicle of a similar make and model, see if there are any parts in the flooded car you can use.

You should also have a decent idea of how much money you would be willing to take when you use a car salvage company. If there are new parts installed recently, knowing their condition makes the selling process easier.

The first thing you should do is disconnect the battery. Flooded cars will almost always have electrical damage; you don’t want to risk it.

Look under the hood and take note of what parts are still serviceable. You will also need to inventory the inside of the car, especially the seats. Take note of any damage to the instrument panel.

Check the doors and trunk as well. For electrical windows, they will not work most of the time. If they do, there is a small chance that they will roll down, but this doesn’t mean that you will be able to get them back up. It’s best to leave them alone.

Once you have a good idea of the overall damage done to your car, remove any personal items you can keep, including your license plate.

2. Evaluate Your Expectations

Before you sell your vehicle to a car salvage company, figure out how much you should expect. Remember that you are selling your car because you have determined it to be beyond repair, so you will not get the amount of money that you paid for it.

One way to do this is going onto a valuation website, such as the Kelly Blue Book page. Remember that the value of your car will be significantly less than what it shows online. If you have a good understanding of car repair you can make an educated guess based on the value minus needed repairs from your inspection.

You can also go online and look up other people who have gone the car salvage route to see what they received. The key is to temper your expectations.

3. Gather the Necessary Documents

The main thing that you will need is the title to the car. Most car salvage companies will not take the vehicle off your hands without the title. They have to prove that you are the owner and have permission to sell it to them.

You might also need other documents, such as proof of insurance and your driver’s license. Make sure you find this information out before delivering the car so that there isn’t a slowdown in the process.

Most states have various regulations when it comes to car salvage. Check your local state’s rules. The state of Texas has a helpful guide online for buying or selling used cars, and contact information for each major city.

4. Contact a Car Salvage Company

When you talk to a company there are some things you should remember to ask them. Many people’s main focus is on the amount of money they will receive, forgetting other important information.

Make sure that you have everything you need to relinquish ownership of the car. Even though you have checked the state regulations, each company has different rules.

You should also find someone that will get the car if you can’t transport it yourself. Having the car picked up is important if it has flood damage. Even if the engine will start, it will not be safe to drive. You don’t want to put yourself or others in harm’s way while transporting the vehicle.

Find out the payment method as well. You will need to know if the car salvage payment will be immediate and if it’s in check or cash. Cash is always the better option for a few reasons.

One reason is that you need your money now. Banks can take up to five days to credit your account. You shouldn’t have to wait that long to receive payment for your car.

The second is that cash minimizes your risk of being scammed. A cash payment guarantees that you receive the funds, whereas a check from a dubious company might be canceled or faked. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of by anyone.

Some places will offer you more if you take the car apart yourself instead of them doing it. This question is important if you are trying to maximize your return.

They might also give you more money if you transport it to them instead of having them pick it up. While a flooded car isn’t safe to drive (if it starts at all) you might know someone that can tow it for you.

Check The Company Out Online

Make sure that you are dealing with a reputable company by looking at their website and reviews online. There are scammers galore after natural disasters, so you need to be careful.

One of the first things you should do is look for a company that has a solid history. If a company seems to come out of nowhere, that is a red flag. There are certain ways of knowing that a company isn’t a fly by night operation:

  • Google them. If the “about us” page on their website says they’ve been in business since 2005, but you can’t find them online, there is a good chance they are lying.
  • Look for a blog. Blogs are a way for a company to increase their visibility online. A company with a blog history has been around for a while, and also wants to be seen. Companies looking to make money and run want to operate in the shadows. Blogs are a great way of establishing trust.
  • Check for reviews. Many companies are now posting their reviews on their website to build trust. Remember that not every customer will be happy, but there should be a majority of good reviews.

After you establish that the company has a history, check the BBB to make sure there are no serious complaints against the car salvage company. The BBB is non-profit and privately owned, making them an impartial source of information.

The Bureau ranks businesses on numerous factors, including the amount of time a company has been operating, internet presence, and a verifiable address. A company considered to be very trustworthy has a ranking of an A or above.

Finalize the Price and Get Paid

The easy part is next: just sit back, let the car salvage company do their thing, and get your money! There is the small matter of turning your tag into the DMV, but once you do that you should be home free.

You should also leave a review of your experience so that others can make a better decision. Reviews also help companies improve their service and reward the employees that do a good job. If someone is very helpful, get their name and let the business know.

Reasons to Sell Your Flooded Car for Cash

Now that you know how to sell your vehicle for money to a car salvage company, let’s look at the reasons you should. Some of the reasons might surprise you!

The first reason is rather obvious: cash.

You have a car that is sitting somewhere, not doing anything. If you can’t drive it, why have it around?

You get the cash you need to either go towards a new car or help out in other areas of life. After a major flood, even a few hundred dollars can go a long way.

It’s also Environmentally Friendly.

When you scrap your vehicle, you are supporting an industry that is helping to improve the environment. The government regulates the car salvage industry to ensure the proper use and disposal of materials.

The production of metals, in particular, steel and aluminum, is a major contributor to pollution. By scraping your car, you are putting the metal in your old vehicle back onto the market, meaning less has to be produced.

The fluids found in scrapped cars has to be disposed of correctly. One gallon of gasoline is enough to contaminate one million gallons of drinking water. This and other chemicals can filter into the drinking water supply when they aren’t disposed of properly.

Cars also contain antifreeze and other chemicals that are dangerous to both humans and animals. Car salvage companies dispose of these chemicals and make sure that they do not have an ecological effect.

Car batteries can be dangerous as well. Thrown away old batteries can leak lead into the environment. If they find themselves exposed to open flames, they can explode and cause injury to people or animals.

There is a better use for them than rotting away in landfills. Older cars can use the batteries. Batteries can make new solar panels as well. Not only are the negative impacts limited, but the batteries have a new purpose.

Let Us Get You The Cash You Need

Handling the cleanup after a disaster is a stressful experience. There are never any right answers for what someone should do; choices take on a far more significant weight than before.

Getting things off of your to-do list with as little stress as possible is important. That’s why we want to make the process of selling your car for cash as easy as possible.

We are a car salvage company with locations all over the United States, including those affected in Houston, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and more. If your vehicle doesn’t run or is simply ruined, we will pick it up for free and give you cash on the spot.

We offer top dollar for your car so that you can get it off of your list and have some cash when you need it the most. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time, and one of our car salvage professionals will be happy to help you.

Don’t wait, get the cash you need today.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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