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Watch Out for Flooded Used Cars in the Market

Buyer Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

When you go shopping for used cars, you never know exactly what you’re going to find. Sometimes you’ll see a car that is obviously damaged and clearly a poor value. In other cases, though, you might run into a car that looks perfectly fine at first blush, but hides some potentially major problems. One good example of this: Cars that have been in flood regions, and have a lot of difficult-to-spot water damage.

Here’s the truth of the matter: There are major floods throughout the country, every single year, and especially in the spring. These floods can sometimes do major damage to vehicles. And sometimes, those vehicles are sold rather than fully rehabilitated—meaning the market always has some flood-damaged vehicles floating around. It is in your best interest as a consumer to be alert to the signs of flood-damaged vehicles, and to be extremely cautious about buying these vehicles.

Tips for Spotting Flood-Damaged Vehicles

The question is, how can you tell when a car or truck has been on the receiving end of some flooding? Here are a few things to look for.

First and foremost, make sure you buy from a good, reputable seller—not from a private party or from a dealership with a sketchy record. The thing about good dealers—real professionals, and family-owned businesses—is that they want to form positive, trusting relationships with their customers, not just make a quick buck. As such, they are highly unlikely to sell vehicles they know to have been flooded.

Inspect the interior, which is often where evidence of flooding will be most powerful. Sniff around for the smell of mold and mildew—a dead giveaway that the car has experienced some sort of a moisture problem. Also check unfinished metal areas, such as the springs under the seats, for signs of corrosion. Moisture trapped behind the instrument panels is another sign of flooding.
Check under the hood, too. Any unexplainable silt, sand, or leaves that are lodged in the engine’s crevices point to an underwater experience. Also check the oil, and if it looks suspicious—milky, like melted chocolate—that might mean it’s been mixed with water. Flooding is a possible explanation for this.
Always take any used vehicle for a test drive before purchasing it—and be extra diligent if you think there is any chance it has been through a flood. As you drive, test to make sure the electrical system works well—as that’s usually the first thing to go in a flood.

When in doubt, ask an expert. Pay a little extra to take the vehicle to an independent mechanic, who can tell you what kind of shape the vehicle is in.

Flooding can do short- and long-term damage to a car. Obviously, you want to avoid that, or at least to know about it in advance. Learn more about buying used vehicles by contacting us at Get My Auto today.