Thousands of cars in central Iowa have been hit by flash flooding.

Thousands of vehicles were damaged in flash flooding this past weekend in the Des Moines area.

Chris Good is a mechanic at Iowa Auto Repair in Urbandale. “My phone has not stopped ringing,” Good says. Many vehicle owners are calling to find out if it’s safe to try and start their car or if they should have it towed to a repair shop for inspection.

“If you got a couple inches of water on your carpet, that’s one thing, but if the car was underwater where the engine was underwater, then have it towed,” Good says. Some flood-damaged cars can be salvaged, but Good notes computers inside the vehicle are not sealed against the weather.

“Modern cars have 20 to 50 different computers,” Good says. “The electronics obviously do not like to get wet, they’re going to have corrosion in the wires and connectors.” Good expects most of the cars that took on water in the weekend flooding will be considered a total loss.

He’s warning used car shoppers to do their homework. “In the future, people who are looking to buy a used car really need to get it checked out ahead of time. These are going to start hitting the market,” Good says. Some vehicles may be repaired only cosmetically and placed for sale without any indication of the flood damage.

Good says there are several sites online for buyers to check, for free, if a vehicle has been affected by flooding. One such tool is offered by the National Insurance Crime Bureau: