November 7, 2012 - In light of Hurricane Sandy we thought it would be a good idea to talk about ways you can avoid buying a flood damaged vehicle. It may sound ridiculous but there are people in this world who would try to scam unaware buyers out of thousands of dollars by selling them a car that was once completely submerged in water. Hundreds of cars were destroyed during the Frankenstorm and some of those cars will try to find their way back into the market at the hands of sketchy car salesmen.
When a car is completely submerged in water, it often does irreparable damage to the cars electrical system. The computers, sensors, and other electronic devices will not work as they are supposed to, if even at all, which seriously jeopardizes the safety of any vehicle. Often times the cost of thoroughly drying and cleaning a car that has been completely submerged in water is greater than the value of the car. Cars that are totaled because of flood damage are sold to salvage companies who specialize in car restoration. These people turn around and sell the cars but they make sure their customers know that the car has been salvaged. If you are in the market for a new or used car, here are some things you can look for to ensure that you are not purchasing a car that has been totaled by flood damage:
Smell test – The most obvious sign of water damage is the smell of mold. When you are inspecting a car make sure you take a quick sniff inside. Smell the interior seats and floors. Also, open up the trunk and take a whiff. If you smell mold or a musty smell there is chance that the car has experienced water damage.
Look under the carpet – A sign of flood damage is if the carpet in the car seems newer than the car itself. If the carpet looks newer, that means that it has been cleaned or replaced. Pull up the carpet in different corners of the car and look for dirt, mud, and waters stains.
Look under the dash – The hardest part of the car to clean is underneath the dashboard. If someone is trying to move flood damaged cars, chances are they are trying to do it quickly. The goal is to make the car look just good enough for you to buy it without noticing any of the damage. That means the dash will often go untouched. The underside of the dash can be a telltale sign of a car’s history.
If you suspect that a car has experienced water damage but you are still unsure, you should take it to mechanic before you make your purchase. Any good mechanic will be able to tell you the condition of the vehicle with a thorough inspection.