If you are in the market for a used car or will be looking to buy one in the upcoming months be cautious! The recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have damaged thousands of vehicles. It is common for these flood-damaged cars to be cleaned up and resold. Along with them can come compromised electrical, mechanical, and safety systems. To help you make an educated decision when buying your next used vehicle we have put together a checklist to help you identify if a car has flood damage.
VIN Check: The first thing we recommend you check when considering a used vehicle is the VIN number. There are several websites that can provide you free and paid VIN searches. Carfax offers a free flood check on their website with the option of purchasing a full report. The VIN check will provide you with the vehicle’s title status and possibly a vehicle history report. If the car was a total loss insurance companies assign the car a salvage title.
Mud & Rust: There are a few places in the vehicle that you can look for signs of mud and rust that would indicate the car was flooded. The first place to check is the area under the driver and passenger seats. These adjustable rails of the seats are typically made from metal and could easily rust if they sat in water. This is also a good place to check for signs of mud as it is not an easy place for people to reach and clean. Another place you may find mud or rust is in the spare tire compartment in the trunk. Make sure to pull up the trunk board and inspect the area under it.
Smells: Your nose can be an excellent tool in finding possible signs that the vehicle has been flooded. The smells you want to look out for is moldy and musty odors. These odors are hard to get rid of and can be a tell-tale sign of flood damage. You may also want to check for overpowering air fresheners. This could indicate that the seller is attempting to hide some non-favorable scents from you.
Moisture: Another simple way to check for flood damage is using your hand to pat the seats and floor. This will allow you to feel for any moisture that may be lingering. Particularly, check places in that would have a hard time drying out. Such as under the front seats and in the crease where the top and bottom of the seat meet.
Pre-Purchase Inspection: One of the most important steps in identifying a flood-damaged car is having a pre-purchase inspection. If the seller is hesitant or does not allow you to have a pre-purchase inspection this can be a sign there is something they don’t want you to find. Furthermore, the pre-purchase inspection can help identify current problems the vehicle has and potential problems you could have in the future. As mentioned earlier, flood-damaged cars can have issues with their mechanical, electrical and safety systems. However, these may not be apparent to the eye and require testing by a certified automotive technician.
The team at Eurasian Auto Repair understands how stressful the process of buying a used vehicle can be especially after so many vehicles have been flooded and may hit the market for resale. Before making the decision to buy give us a call and schedule a pre-purchase inspection. Having the vehicle inspected before you sign your name on the dotted line can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars.