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Rebuilt Flood Cars (Subaru)

Hey guys,

I’m a recent college grad. I’ve put 60K miles on a 1995 Audi 90 that I’ve had for 5-6 years now, for a total of 150K almost to the dot. I’m seeking a replacement car, but I have a limited budget of $10K in cash. I don’t want any more monthly payments, I don’t like debt.

There is a guy that specializes in rebuilding Subarus that were flooded… They look pretty good cosmetically, but I worry that there will be lingering time-bomb sorts of damage later. He says he strips it all down, throws away anything that got wet, washes the frame, and rebuilds with organ donor cars or new parts if he can’t find in a junkyard. In the end, he says, the cars pass the Subaru multipoint inspection and drive like new.

I do most of my own car work- I can replace most parts but I have limited garage space and time, since this will be my work car. In other words, I don’t mind replacing some speakers or an oil pan gasket, but I don’t want to find out that the transmission is acting up, or there is a fault in the deep wiring in the firewall or something. The advantage is I could get an 08-or-so Impreza with only 45K-or-so miles on it.

So I’m asking, is it possible to truly bring a flood car back to life? Or does it give it an extra two years and then my $10K is wasted on a car that can’t run and can’t sell? If it would last like this one has (18 years and kicking, 89K miles when I bought it), and I could run it into the ground or until I had money to buy another car, I might do it. But I don’t want to be nickel and dimed to death.

I plan on calling the local Subie dealership and asking what they think of him, since he’s done hundreds he says I’m sure they’ve dealt with them.

So, thoughts?

The other considerations I have are about a 06 Legacy Limited with ~100K miles, or a 06 VW GTI with about 90-100K miles. Sill considering those, but wanted to see what I could pan out about this kind of option as well.


The answer really depends on how the job is done. Most folks just try to “dry out” the car, replace fluids and that will get the car running again, but problems in the future often crop up.

From your description of this shop’s methods, it might work out to be a good car. Question is what is the price of the completed car? What kind of title does it have, salvage or regular which affects resale value? What kind of warranty does the shop provide and for how long?

I’d want to see some references, and only pay attention to the testimonial letters that talk about how well the car is holding up 5+ years after the work was done and the car resold.

Any flood car is a toss-up. Other than electrical gremlins there’s also the issue of water creeping into wheel bearings, suspension and steering components, into the timing belt case, and even into units such as differentials and transmissions.

Not being familiar with the company I took a look at their website and while I’m by no means accusing them of anything nefarious, some of it sounded odd to me.
They state that if the water level has reached a certain level (dash high for example) they will replace the wiring harness, other electrics, transmission, engine, etc, etc.

Other than this coming across as odd due to the vast amount of man hours involved, it’s difficult for me to see how this could be cost effective.
The titles will also show “reconstructed” which puts a crimp on future value and all cars are sold “AS IS”.
All of this would make me a bit antsy if I were in your shoes.

I would never, ever buy a flood car. Ever. There are so many electronics and electrical connections in modern cars that can corrode, slowly over the years, resulting in major problems.

@texases I agree! Very old cars with primitive electrics and no emission controls could be fixed up to run reasonably reliably. That’s out of the question with today’s cars.

The best use for these cars is to sell them for the mechanical and body parts that are usable.

Plus, being in West Virginia, he’s getting his cars from the east coast, which means some if not all of them have been flooded in salt water. Rust city. I wouldn’t do it.

These cars are “time bombs” so don’t even consider buying one. With today’s electronics…they don’t tolerate getting drenched at all. Move on and find something else.

This guys “flooded” Subaru turned out OK.

You just don’t know, especially with salt water. Problems a car was never destined to have, especially electric, you can have. The extent to the flooding is most important and the depth the car was flooded and real important, how long. So, just saying you had or someone else had a flooded car that turned out OK, depends on how slight or how little time the car was actually flooded. We have dropped outboards in the water that turned out oK bu the duration was low and these things were make for that environment to be in with. Subaru does not make amphibious cars I am aware of. I vote an emphatic NO.

With all the flood damaged cars from NJ due to Sandy I would be very leery. Cars with salt water damage were generally totaled by the insurance companies regardless of age or condition after Sandy.

Ed B.

If it was salt water, I would steer clear…A year or two from now, the chickens will come home to roost…The wiring harness and all it’s dozens of connectors will fail…The car will always “Smell Funny”, the interior having been saturated with foul, polluted, water…

Much depends on how deep it was submerged…If the water got over the dashboard, that’s the kiss of death…

I might consider a freshwater car, but would never consider a saltwater car.

there are a LOT more cars out there in your price range that have NOT been flooded or wrecked. Keep looking.

Not something I would be interested at any cost. He says he changes the parts but doesn’t say with what. Take that ECM out of the red one and put it in the blue one and put the one from the blue one into the red one, George. Otherwise I don’t see how he can make any money at all stripping the dash, interior, electronics, etc. out and replacing them. I’m skeptical and especially given how many thousands of flood cars from the east coast alone.

Rex says he works very hard to grade the cars and then make them roadworthy again. But he doesn’t stand behind them with a warranty - even a 2 day warranty, much less a 30 to 90 day warranty. I’d pass on any of these cars.


Personally, I would never get a car with ANY kind of branded title.

Dealers basically don’t want anything to do with them once they’re branded. They pass them on to wholesalers and auctioneers. They want to wash their hands of those dirty cars.

The value is basically c . . p. You literally can’t get a price from They don’t even provide values for bad title cars.

There’s a very good chance you’ll have electrical gremlins down the road.

What about the mold? Not exactly a healthy situation.

Perhaps everything will initially seem fine.

But beware . . .

Look at the terms of sale by that seller.
Have it inspected prior to buying.
Once bought, it’s yours warts and all no matter what.
Three day return ONLY on cars that are shipped and ONLY if a number of hoops are jumped through.
No return at all on cars that are picked up in person. Read; quits on the way home, tough.
Note that the good feedback that seller has on eBay are from people who left positive feedback shortly after receiving the car. Their opinions may drastically change 6 months later when things start failing.
Their eBay auctions make no mention of floods and allude to a branded title. Odds are many people will not even bother to read through all of the listing due to length and flash.

I’m also having a hard time buying the claim that they “replace everything that was touched by water”.

If the price was cheap enough one of those cars might be worth a shot but the prices they’re asking for a wiped or flooded car with a branded title are way too high.


The website claims to sell cars with “R-titles”

Why don’t they stop beating around the bush?

In other words, NOT clean titles

In one of the write ups, they straight out say that there is a mileage discrepancy. The mileage listed on the title is NOT the mileage shown on the odometer

Way to much baggage . . .



I vote to pass, too. I can’t think of any car I’d want flooded, and a Subaru has a fair number of complicated and expensive drivetrain components that could easily be damaged. I doubt he’s replacing those bits if he doesn’t have to. There are lots of cars in the sea. Wait, that’s not what I meant.

I agree with all of these comments. These are thought I’ve been having.

What makes me interested is that he seems to recognize this, and “replace anything that got wet” with donor car organs from a junkyard. So an impreza flooded to halfway up the steeringwheel, according to him, gets a new-used steering wheel and any/all that level or below from a crash car.

The potential value to me is what makes me consider it. I have looked and looked but I can’t seem to find reviews from people who have bought from him. Then again, this is WV, and people are buying budget cars, they’re probably not the kind to take to a computer and post their opinions.

AHHHHHHHH Jeez. My car’s gas gauge stuck a little high of, lets say, EMPTY yesterday, and I had to have it towed. I’m so exhausted with these problems, I want something new. I can afford 10K. I don’t want high miles or old age (age hurt my car before miles did- seals/gaskets/electronics). I’m just wondering if now that I have experience from this, if I could handle minor issues that crop up with a car like that- assuming he holds his end up and replaces all wiring that touched water.

I don’t know what to do, ladies and gents. It’s like an 08 Impreza with 45K vs an 06 legacy with 105K, for almost exactly the same money.

It’s so stressful!