Super-storm Sandy soaked more than our homes and businesses. According to the National Association of Automobile Dealers, flooding may have damaged as many as 250,000 cars. Here’s the problem – many of these water-damaged cars now contain mold, a major health hazard. If they wind up on used car lots, it could mean health problems for unsuspecting consumers.

After a car has been cleaned and dried out, it may be hard to tell that the vehicle was ever flooded. If you’re lucky, you’ll detect a musty odor, meaning there might be hidden mold. But the danger goes beyond the possible health issues mold can cause. As NBC News reports, floodwater can also damage a car’s engine, electronics, fuel system, airbags and brakes.

If you are going to buy a used car, here are some helpful tips:

  • Check for water in the headlights, taillights, and spare tire well in the trunk;
  • Look for mud in the seat belt tracks and under the dashboard;
  • Inspect the vehicle’s undercarriage for mud, corrosion, or rust;
  • If you smell a musty odor, there is probably mold in the seats and carpeting;
  • Watch for signs of rust or corrosion around screws, wires, and other metal parts.

People with allergies, underlying health conditions, and young children are more susceptible to health complications from mold, so if you really want to be safe, a certified microbial investigator can test the car to determine if mold is present in the vehicle. The Associated Press suggests also that you have a qualified mechanic check things out, and that you run the car’s vehicle identification number though a company such as Carfax  to see if it has been reported as damaged or totaled.



Mold problems are not limited to states with high humidity and have led to various school closings throughout the country. Addressing mold problems proactively is the most successful and cost-effective way to manage them. (EPA)

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