Was your vehicle flooded? Here’s what to do before and after the storm.

What to do with your flooded vehicle.

In addition to the many homes and businesses dealing with flooding from Hurricane Harvey, an estimated half a million vehicles will be junked due to flooding in Houston. This is an unprecedented number of vehicles that will overwhelm the wholesale market once insurance companies deem the vehicles a total loss. When the water recedes and they can return to those cars, residents may be unsure what to do next. Should they start it and risk causing further damage or have it towed to a trusted repair shop?

Even if you aren’t a Hurricane Harvey victim, you could someday fall victim to flooding. Here are a few things you need to know to protect your car against damage from flood waters.

How to prevent flood damage to your vehicle

For those in a flood-prone area, there are often signs that a flood may be imminent. However, it’s important to note that many areas can experience some type of flooding due to extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rains and storms, or even man made disasters like a failed levee or water main. It’s important to pay close attention to weather warnings, including setting up emergency weather alerts on your mobile device.

Once you’re aware a flood will impact your area, move all your vehicles to an area that is the most likely to be safe. Avoid driving through flooded areas, not only to protect your car but for your own personal safety. As little as six inches of water can cause your vehicle to lose control and be swept away in fast moving currents. If you decide to remain in place, there are flood covers you can purchase that will protect your car against water damage. These act like a giant ziplock bag for your car and help keep the contaminated flood waters from entering your vehicle’s sensitive components. Another option is to elevate your vehicle as much as possible, like this enthusiast who lifted his prized BMW collection using jackstands and cinder blocks. It also can’t hurt to disconnect your battery to avoid electrical damage from the standing water or heavy moisture.

Long before a flood arrives, you should also make sure you have enough insurance to cover the cost of replacing your car against total loss in any weather disaster. It’s been reported that only 15% of Houston residents hold flood insurance. A depressingly low number for a city with elevations below sea level.

What to do after the water recedes.

Once the flood waters have receded, you may feel tempted to start your car to see if it still runs. Unfortunately, turning the ignition will only cause further damage if water has gotten into the engine or electronics. Instead, remove all floor mats and personal belongings and open the hood and trunk to begin the dry-out process. Do not attempt to do anything until you’ve talked to your insurance company.

  • Do NOT attempt to start the vehicle!
  • Open all the doors, hood, and trunk to allow as much airflow through the vehicle as possible.
  • Remove the floor mats or anything else that sits on top of the carpets.
  • Change all fluids, including engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid if possible.
  • Remove the spark plugs and ensure there is no standing water in the cylinders.
  • Let the vehicle sit in a dry area for as long as possible. Fully drying a vehicle could take days or weeks depending on humidity levels in the area.

You may also feel tempted to call for a tow truck, but this can also be a mistake. If a tow involves the wheels moving on ground at any point, it can also cause further harm to a waterlogged car. Often the oil and transmission fluid will need to be drained before you can move it. If you aren’t qualified to work on your car, contact a trusted mechanic to advise you on how to proceed.

You don’t have to be a master mechanic to take a look under the hood and assess damage. The first step is to search for water damage, both inside and out. Flood waters usually contain mud and other debris that leave a water line after a short period of time. This water line will tell you how deeply your vehicle was submerged, giving you an idea of which components might have been affected. You may find that the waters barely skimmed the bottom of your car doors, for instance, which means it likely wouldn’t have damaged any of the elements required to keep the car functioning. However, you may still have damage to your car’s brake system, wheel bearing, or suspension and exhaust components.

Once you’ve checked for a water line, pop the hood and check the dipstick for water droplets. Even if all looks normal, note the oil level. If it seems higher than usual, it’s likely a sign that your oil has flood water mixed in with it indicating you should fully drain and change the engine oil. Check the air filter for water, as well.

How to avoid being scammed after a flood

Even if you don’t live in an area recently struck by floods, you can still fall victim to title washing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, half of all flood-damaged vehicles eventually end up back on the market. These vehicles are often transported to other areas of the country, where consumers purchase them used on sites like Craigslist or on salvage title car lots.

It can be difficult to spot a water-damaged car, especially after a thorough clean-up. Don’t be deceived by looks, though. Being submerged in water can do damage to a car’s electrical system that may not appear until later. A car’s parts may also have suffered rust and corrosion that will lead to ongoing mechanical issues. Use a service like Carfax’s free flood check to avoid becoming a victim. You can also get a full vehicle history report that will alert you to any problems. Don’t ever be afraid to walk away from a car you suspect has been damaged in a flood.

Life after the flood.

In many cases, insurance companies will simply total out a flooded car if the water rose above floor level. Insurers prefer to play it safe, rather than repair damage and risk the car not being safe to operate. When that happens, check to see if you have rental car coverage to give you a few days to find a new car. Once that coverage kicks in, though, it’s important to begin your car search immediately, since your insurance company will probably only pay for a set number of days.

Since you’ll be buying in a recently flooded area, it’s important to take measures to avoid being sold a refurbished flood-damaged car. Avoid salvage title lots and sites like Craigslist, instead opting for dealerships that specialized in a combination of new and used cars. If you can afford to buy new, this is a good time to do so, but otherwise, follow the steps above to ensure the car you’re purchasing has not been damaged by flood waters. This is also a good time to remedy any mistakes you made during the recent flood, including purchasing enough auto insurance to cover your car against disasters and storing your car in a place less likely to be impacted.

Flood damage can wreak havoc on a car’s sensitive components, but it may not be a total loss. Once the flood waters have receded, assess the damage and have a licensed mechanic look at your car before you start the engine. You may be able to save your vehicle or, at the very least, prevent further damage. Since most auto insurers will total a car if flood water rises above the floor, it’s important to have good insurance in place before a weather-related disaster happens.

These hauntingly beautiful art pieces bring scrap cars back to life.

Scrap supercar art.

At The Clunker Junker we buy cars all across the USA, from Atlanta. GA to Denver, CO. We Americans often think up weird and wonderful ways to re-purpose auto parts, but over in Poland Mariusz Olejnik has taken things to a whole new level. The artist has upcycled old car components, turning scraps of shiny metal into awesome art compositions. The exhibition needs to be seen to be believed: metal figures made entirely from reconstructed cars in a massive warehouse space. Bumpers, brakes wheels — all of these auto parts have been transformed into steel statues. Some are stunning, and others are slightly scary, but all are must-see pieces of modern art.

Scrap Supercars

Scrap Supercars

Olejnik’s metal statues are housed in the Gallery of Steel Figures in Pruszków, a Polish city with a burgeoning arts scene. Inside the museum, there are dozens of sculptures created from old vehicles. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a series of vintage cars — there’s a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, a Maserati GranTurismo, a Lamborghini Aventador and a Bugatti Veyron — built to scale with scrap metal. Look closely and you’ll see incredible detail: the hood of the Lamborghini consists of hundreds of steel screws, bolts, discs, coils and springs. The doors are completely functional, too. Open one up and gawp at the gleaming metal interior. It has steel seats, a steering wheel and even a dashboard. The Bugatti has an exposed engine, real-size seats and a gear lever.

These supercars prove it’s possible to get creative with just the most basic of materials. Here, conical washers and spacers help to replicate gearboxes and transmissions and engines. The finished result is an unusual tourist attraction for car buffs everywhere. Aside from the cars, there is also a collection of motorbikes, again made from reconstituted steel. Just like all the other exhibits, these bikes are incredibly complex, made up of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of tiny parts.

Scrap Pagani Zonda
Recreation of a Pagani Zonda
Scrap Zonda exhaust
The Zonda’s famous four port exhaust
Scrap Zonda Interior
Interior shot of the Zonda.
Scrap Lambo Aventador
Recreation of a Lamborghini Aventador
Scrap Bugatti Veyron.
A Bugatti Veyron reimagined.
Scrap bugatti Engine
Even the Bugatti Engine is recreated.
SCrap art detail.
The pieces are extremely detailed.
Functional hood art
This piece has a functional hood!
Detailed interior art.
The interiors are also extremely detailed.

Lambo interior

Scrap Maserati
A Maserati GranTurismo.
Scrap Mercedes-Benz SL
A Mercedes-Benz SL.
Mercedes-Benz SL Interior complete with gauges.
Mercedes-Benz SL Interior complete with gauges.

Mercedes-Benz SL art piece

Scrap chopper art
Not limited to cars, there is also a chopper!
Scrap roadster art
And a custom roadster too!

Other Exhibits

Elsewhere at the Gallery of Steel Figures, you’ll find sculptures inspired by fairy tales, science fiction movies and celebrities. Check out the life-size Incredible Hulk, complete with rippling muscles and ripped shorts. From head to (extra large) toes, the entire sculpture is created from metal. A burnished Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings” movie franchise sits nearby; his saucer eyes and razor teeth have been hand-carved from steel. A massive lion greets guests, too. Its mane, whiskers and paws are made entirely from metal washers. This is a great place to take a selfie!

“We have created impressive-sized metal figures of robots and film characters from reconstructed cars,” says the Gallery of Steel Figures’ website. “This has arisen as a result of processing scrap material.”

Optimus Prime scrap art
This Optimus Prime from the Transformers franchise is absolutely incredible!


Olejnik was inspired by London’s Madame Tussauds, and his sculptures are just as lifelike. He has replaced wax with steel, but the figures have the same intricate detail. Every wisp of hair, and every thread of clothing, has been immortalized. The Gallery of Steel Figures points out that scrap metal is usually seen as waste, but it can be turned into something else entirely. Olejnik has certainly achieved this feat, creating a local landmark that both children and adults will enjoy.


The Gallery of Steel Figures is located at Przejazdowa 17 05-800, Pruszkow, Poland. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Olejink plans to display five new sculptures at the museum every quarter.

How much is my junk or broken car worth?

Whether your car needs major repairs or is completely ready to be junked – you can sell your for cash and get a fair price for it if you know what it’s worth. But first, in order to determine your car’s value, you need to know what’s wrong with it. That can seem challenging and expensive if you’re not a mechanic. But the truth is, it’s not hard, and you don’t have to be rich to do it.

Most Cars Have a Cash Value, Even Junkers. 

Most cars have some kind of cash value, even if it’s just for parts. That’s why junkyards are happy to collect multiples of the same cars. Often, parts for older cars are hard to find because they aren’t being manufactured anymore. But you can go to the junkyard and find those parts, usually for a set price, regardless of the make of the car.

And what doesn’t get parted out doesn’t get wasted because 98 percent of a car can be recycled, which is a huge benefit to you and the planet.

So, if you’re looking to get some cash for your junk car, here are some do’s and don’ts regarding how to establish the value of your car:

1. Get a used car inspection performed on your vehicle

Take your car to a trusted mechanic who can perform what’s called a “used car inspection” on your vehicle. These inspections can cost less than $100, and if you don’t know what’s wrong with your car, that $100 will tell you what needs to be fixed, giving you the upperhand when selling your car.

This inspection is especially helpful if your check engine light is on. While it’s true that the check engine light can be triggered by something as small as a $60 coil, or even a gas cap that isn’t screwed on tight enough, sometimes it can be something more expensive, like a catalytic converter. If you don’t know why the check engine light is on, when you sell your car, you’ll have a hard time getting a private buyer – even if it’s a junk car. A lot of people who buy junk cars fix them up and resell them, so not knowing why the check engine light is on can be a deal breaker.

If your car isn’t running, find out if your mechanic will come to you. And if that doesn’t work, you could use your AAA membership to have it towed to a mechanic who might allow you to keep the car on the property for 30 days with an agreement that you’ll have it removed or junked if you can’t find a buyer in that time.

You need to investigate to discover as much as you can about what needs to be fixed before selling your car. Also, you might discover the repairs cost less than you thought and you may end up hanging onto your car.

2. Don’t use Craigslist to determine your vehicle’s value

You may be tempted to use Craigslist or any other similar used car posting website in order to determine how much money you can get for your car, especially if you have no idea where to start. But that’s not a good idea for the following reasons:

People have a tendency to overprice their cars on Craigslist

You’ve seen the ads – “1987 Toyota Corolla in pristine condition, original owner, low mileage – $2500.”

If people are overpricing their cars in running condition, you can bet they’re overpricing their cars that need major work. This makes sense because everyone naturally wants to get as much cash as they can when they resell their car. That’s why it’s not a good barometer for determining your car’s value.

You can see the asking price on Craigslist, but what you can’t see is the final sale price of the car worked out between the parties. Most of the time, they get talked down to a more reasonable offer of 50 percent or less than what they originally asked for.

A good portion of cars posted on Craigslist are listed by pros

You’ve probably seen plenty of cars posted on Craigslist that are referred to as a “mechanic’s special.” And many of these cars are being sold for just a few hundred bucks. You might see something like, “1995 Ford Explorer $800 OBO – Mechanic’s Special.”

The description might say something like, “great vehicle, ran great until it started overheating last week,” or “great commuter car but has minor oil leak, should be easy to fix,” or “check engine light is on and I don’t have time to get it checked out.”

At first glance, you might think that if someone can sell an older model of your car for $1,000 with similar issues, you should be able to get a comparable amount of cash for your newer model. But you have to realize that the way people describe the vehicles almost never provides an accurate or complete picture of what’s wrong with the car. At the end of the transaction, the seller doesn’t get anywhere near the original asking price.

Many people misuse the term “mechanic’s special”

Sometimes people post the words “mechanic’s special” in their ad because they think it refers to a car that doesn’t run. But a mechanic’s special isn’t just a car that doesn’t run – it’s a car that requires more work (usually engine work) than the car is actually worth. And knowing if your car is truly a mechanic’s special requires knowing what’s wrong with it.

But a lot of people misuse the term, unaware what’s wrong with their car when they post it as a mechanic’s special. Like this person who purchased a car that wasn’t running, replaced the fuel pump fuse for 35 cents, and resold the car for three times what they paid.

So even if your car really is a true mechanic’s special, it’s not a good idea to use Craigslist to determine its value. It’s just not an accurate measurement.

At the end of the day, the only way to know the value of your car is to have it personally inspected by a certified mechanic. Otherwise, you’re just guessing at what needs to be fixed.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to find a private buyer, you can always call a junk car buyer in Chicago to find out what they’ll pay for your car. Considering all of the time and energy it takes to go back and forth with private buyers, selling your car to a junk buyer just might be your best option.

Sell your car to The Clunker Junker

Before you give up and donate your car to charity because you think it’s not worth anything, consider selling it to The Clunker Junker – you’ll get paid cash on the spot.

Just fill out the form and get an instant quote for your car. You could have cash in hand by the end of the day!


A Chat With The Artist- Sharon Zigrossi of Blooming Hubcaps

We get a lot of questions about where the cars end up after our buyers have paid for them and towed them away. Sometimes, our fine four-fendered friends are crushed up into steel squares, other times they’re fixed up and re-sold. Sometimes they’ll be parted out, but what happens to the parts that make no sense to re-sell? Do they just sit on the side of the road or in a junk yard until they disintegrate? Or does someone so awesomely creative it’s mind blowing come along and make their mark?


Sharon Zigrossi. Photo from YouTube.

Usually, it’s that second one.

Meet Sharon Zigrossi. This fabulous lady from Texas was featured on our blog in August for her one-of-a-kind hubcaps. We recently got to sit down and discuss her work and background a bit more, and she is just as awesome as her art. A trained artist with a BS in Design, her creativity knows no bounds. When she first found a hubcap, the Master Gardener’s eye was immediately drawn to the flower shape. Soon, her Blooming Hubcaps (no, not blooming onions, though those are pretty amazing as well) became a beautiful garden of flowers for her yard! Her work quickly became high in demand, so she started her Etsy Shop where she creates custom hubcaps and others of her own design. At first, they were meant to just be decorations for your lawn, but over six years they have slowly evolved to beautiful, sculptural pieces meant for your home or office.



Happiness. Photo Credit: Sharon Zigrossi

Of course, we had to ask her what her favorite car is. She absolutely loved her Lexus RS 230, but didn’t really have a favorite. For some strange reason, we imagined her driving a Flower-Powered Beetle with the most amazing hubcaps we’ve ever seen, and it turned out that her first family car was a ’68 VW Beetle! And if it wasn’t that, we imagined a VW Microbus, complete with peace-sign drapes and shag carpet. 

Or flowers all over it

As you can see, she doesn’t just slap on some paint and call it a masterpiece. Cleaning the hubcaps is absolutely necessary and takes up a good portion of time, depending on the amount of crud that has been caked on. After all that nastiness is gone, she begins her (usually custom) artwork. The paint, of course, is a large part of it, but these recycled beauties are also embellished with bottle caps, nails, and sometimes even pistachio shells! 

Deep in the Heart of Texas. Photo Credit: Sharon Zigrossi

Since you never know just quite what you’ll need for the next project when you’re a “junk artist”, she has lots of fun embellishments that are just DYING to be used. She tells us she has hundreds of hubcaps in big black trash bags, but her favorites are the old metal ones from the good old days. This Caprice hubcap was inspired by the mosaic design you see behind it. We absolutely love that she kept “Caprice” and embellished the rest of the hubcap.


If you’re dying for one of her Blooming Hub Caps like we are,  visit her ever-growing Etsy page. She’s always creating new pieces, so check back often!


Seven Insanely Clever and Beautiful Uses for Recycled Junk Car Parts!

Where does your junk car end up after you’ve sold it to TheClunkerJunker.com? While some cars may get spruced up and given a new driveway or garage to call home, others seem to sit in junkyards for a VERY long time. That is, until some crafty people come by and give them new life! The tires that have holes that can’t be patched can become beautiful chandeliers for the hallway. The banged up rims are now wall art for the kitchen.

A Temple To Junk Cars.

You may have heard of Car-henge, located in Alliance Nebraska, a clever take on Stonehenge, but that’s not the only place you can see cars placed in precarious positions. Check out this awesome piece of art made from junk cars in Sarasota Florida. It’s called “The Dance” and was either created by extraterrestrials or a local artist named Dustin Schuler. We’ll let you decide. When it was first erected, locals were getting into the cars to have their pictures taken behind the wheel. The doors are now welded shut for safety reasons.

The Dance, by Dustin Schuler.
The Dance, by Dustin Schuler.

Hubba – Hubba!

Most of the time hubcaps are thrown to the side and end up collecting dirt, rust, and looking worse than they ever could on a car or truck. Dallas Texas Artist Sharon Zigrossi refuses to let that happen. After cleaning and painting these seemingly useless hunks of metal and/or plastic she turns them into decorations for your home, garden, or office. Most of her work also features embellishments such a rhinestones, bottle caps, and mirrored glass. Quite a few, including this one called “Daphne,” are featured on a rotating display in the offices of Burson & Williams Architects, and many have been sold!

The amount of time it must have taken to do all those little dots and that beautiful big flower is awe-inspiring.

RAWWR Inspiring!

Lugnuts, and tires, and bearings… Oh my! On a normal day, we probably see two or three tires that have been shredded to bits and now lay on the side of the road. These usually come from semi-trucks and have been cleared out of the path of oncoming traffic, but where do they go after that? Sometimes they end up decaying on the side of the road, but Lahcen Iwi, and artist out of Morocco, carves his amazing sculptures out of tires. These range anywhere in size from bike tires to truck tires, and until January 2015 he was on exhibition at The Institute of the Arab World in Paris for the “Morocco Contemporary” event.


lahcen iwi a tires scupltor, posing with his Lion
Lahcen Iwi posing with his Lion made from discarded car and truck tires.

A Vial Piece of Jewelry

While some people usually try to keep fluids such a gasoline, anti-freeze, and oil inside their cars and away from their hands, Ausra Bankauskaite from Lithuania has found a beautiful way to turn these liquids into jewelry. Her tiaras and rings have been featured in Vogue, but this one-of-a-kind bracelet shows that there is beauty in everything (including transmission fluid). The five vials contain gasoline, antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and machine oil while the back of the bracelet features a timing belt! There’s no price on her amazing work of art as this seems to be the only one of its kind.

Valerie saw this and now she wants it.
Five times cooler than a vial of blood on a necklace.

One Hot Bug

After Lindsay Lohan and Herbie became friends, Herbie found himself needing a new job. Tired of life on the road, he retired to a life of endless summer grilling. The Love-Bug becomes the Grub-Bug! One crafty chef decided that his grill was cool (or would that be hot?), but it would be REALLY amazing if it was a Volkswagen Beetle. Don’t worry, I bet they found a great idea for all the parts under the hood! We want to know what happened to the rear end.

Throw another shrimp on the bug? Eh... whatever works.
Throw another shrimp on the Herbie.

Grandma Would Be Proud

Often, the junk cars we buy are in running condition, but the exterior makes you shudder. That dent on the side may bring the value of your Civic but some duct tape can make it all better. Meet Severija, a Lithuanian artist who loves cross stitch. She first drills holes into metal, then creates designs that remind you the sampler than Grandma made for you when you were five. Her skills don’t stop at car doors and hoods, though. She has created masterpieces from shovels, pots, and even rusty tin cans. Some designs can simply mask an ugly scratch, but others transform a regular mode of transportation into a working piece of art.

I wonder what happens when it rains...
I wonder what happens when it rains…

Old School Cool

At TheClunkerJunker.com we understand that our cars are a huge part of our lives; for some they get us where we need to go, for others they’re like our children. And, of course, we hate to see our babies go to another person. The amazing folks at New Retro Cars take those vintage, sometimes rusty, classic cars and turns them into furniture you can enjoy for years. Look what they did to this VW Bus. And this Plymouth. Our favorite is this couch they made from a 1957 Bel Air.

Nothing I want to say here is clean
Giving new meaning to “park your rear”.