Seems like a timely subject with 2 hurricanes and over a million vehicles flooded. You can't rely on a service like CarFax to give you the straight poop. The fact may be hidden. If the car will run, rust or electronics might take a while to show evidence? HARVEY WRECKS UP TO A MILLION CARS IN CAR-DEPENDENT HOUSTON And that’s where another specter raises its head: title washing, or taking a damaged vehicle, fixing it up a bit, and fudging the record (either by forgery or taking advantage of legal loopholes by moving states) to hide the fact that it was once the victim of serious problems. A 2014 study by Carfax found there were nearly 800,000 cars on US roads that had been through this sort of fraud; 650,000 of those were flood damaged or salvage vehicles. Because these cars tend to be sold cheap, their sellers are likely to target the many people now in desperate need of a new chariot. “Flooded vehicles will be showing up on the market,” says Fred Britton, owner of Public Auto Auctions in Niederwald, Texas, near Austin. “That’s always a bad thing.” Cars that have been submerged are almost certain to be totaled: Water can wreak havoc on the engine, exhaust, electrical systems, and computer controls. “Somebody may be able to get it running again,” Britton says, but the problems caused by the water will almost certainly persist and eventually resurface.