Heavy rains and flooding can do some serious damage to a car—but that doesn’t always mean that those cars come off the market. Flood-damaged vehicles show up at junkyards and salvage spots all the time; unfortunately, they also show up at used car dealerships. Before you purchase a used car, do your research and know how to avoid a lemon.
4 Ways to Ensure You’re Not Buying a Flood-Damaged Car
Don’t want to get stuck with a flood-damaged car? We don’t blame you. Here, we’ll discuss four sure-fire ways to ensure you’re not buying a lemon (or at least avoiding a flood-damaged vehicle!).
1. Check the vehicle history.
The easiest way to avoid buying a flood-damaged car is to check the vehicle history. More often than not, flood-damaged vehicles are reported to insurance agencies and that data will end up on record. Go to CarFax and pay for a report yourself or ask the dealership for a copy.
2. Look for discolored carpeting.
Have a hunch that the car had experienced a little more than general wear and tear? Water-damage often leaves cars with discolored carpeting and water stains. However, don’t knock a car just because it has a stain. Not all stains mean the vehicle has been in a flood.
3. Examine exterior for signs of water buildup.
Check the exterior of the car, too. Water-damaged vehicles will show signs of water build-up on the exterior paint. You may also notice signs of moisture in the light fixtures. If the vehicle was previously submerged under water, you might notice foggy headlights or brake lights.
4. Inspect the undercarriage for flaking or rust.
Newer or well-maintained cars will typically show little wear under the belt. If you can, have a trusted local mechanic shop inspect the undercarriage of the car you are considering before you buy. If they notice flaking or rust, that could be a sign that the car was once submerged in water.
Think a deal sounds too good to be true? It probably is. Remember trying to pass off a flood-damaged car as an undamaged used vehicle is against the law. Car salesman must disclose if a vehicle has experienced a flooding event.
If you come across this issue while purchasing a car, be sure to report it to your insurance company, local authorities, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau as soon as possible.
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