Ask About Your Part's Origin

No pun intended, but the auto recycling industry has been inundated with its share of flood damaged vehicles in the past few years. Most auto insurance adjusters and salvage auctions would agree with this statement. The owners of PAM’s Auto, Mike Meyer and Pat Huesers, have seen these vehicles for sale at the auto auctions for years, and have always said, “I’ll pass on that one.” They have experienced too many issues in the past with these parts, “It’s not worth it,” they said.

If you repair cars for a living, there are many reasons why flood damaged vehicles are not the best parts donor for your shop’s customers. Let’s take a look at some basic facts:

• Floodwater damage, such as silt, mud, or rust, can cause serious issues with doors, deck lids, hoods or any multi-layered seamed sheet metal. With today’s “lifetime” warranties on rust through corrosion, nobody needs that!

• Floodwater residues continue to do more damage for years. Electrical components such as sensors, computers and wiring pigtails, will fail early or be inadequate for repairs.

• Floodwaters often contain raw sewage, which creates biological hazards. Mold and mildew aren’t easy to eradicate. Finding out your customer has a mold allergy to the parts you have just installed will not make for a happy day!

• Areas under the seats hold floodwater for extended periods of time. Many OE manufacturers now mount ECUs, BCUs and MPUs in these places ... not good. Anti-lock braking and air bag systems are especially sensitive to flood damage.

• Water damaged air bags will often look good, pass electrical tests and not show any air bag ECU fault codes. That is all great until the day they need to deploy in a collision, because they will not!

• Engines and transmissions, including differentials and transfer cases, are very sensitive to high floodwater levels due to all the electrical sensors, intake ports, overflow tubes and breathers they have … oil and water do not mix well at all.

• Engine accessories such as starters, alternators and power steering pumps will be questionable for any repair. Brake calipers, brake boosters and wheel bearing assemblies will soak up floodwater through the seals as well.

• Headlights and taillights are very intricate parts with all their modular capsules, sockets and pigtails. Wire harnesses soaked in floodwater and then exposed to freezing temperatures can be come brittle and may crack, resulting in lost insulation and exposed bare wires.

• Remember … vehicles are built to be water resistant, not waterproof.

Quality recycled auto parts are a very popular and affordable choice for auto repairs today due to excellent warranties and high quality control standards. Quality parts that are purchased from a reputable auto recycler and installed properly will perform well for your customer for years to come.

As a shop owner and / or manager, you should be asking your recycled parts supplier if they are buying flood vehicles, have bought them in the past, or know if the parts they’re selling have come off flood vehicles. A few high quality auto recyclers will say “NO” to the temptation of buying flood vehicles for profit, it’s a shallow proposition.

Wes Bradford is the marketing director for PAM's Auto, Inc. in St. Cloud, Minn. (

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The Locator Magazine October 2019
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