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5 Signs a Used Car Was in a Flood

Hurricane Matthew Cars May Be on the Seattle Vehicle Market Soon

A recent Seattle KOMO news "Problem Solvers" segment showed that more than a quarter million flooded vehicles are on the roads all over the US even though they should be in the junkyard. After floods from storms like the recent Hurricane Matthew, vehicles that were water damaged and totaled out by insurance companies come onto the market even though they should be out of service for good.

These cars can be dried out and made to look presentable but pose serious safety concerns. Braking systems and electrical components may have been permanently compromised and can put you at risk. If you're considering buying a used car, it pays to have it checked out before you plunk down your hard-earned cash. For those considering a used Subaru, bring it by Suburb Service to get it checked out.

Here are five signs that a used car is a potentially dangerous flood zone vehicle

#1 Residual water in hidden places

Flood zone cars are usually wiped down and allowed to dry out before they're put up for sale, but it's hard to get moisture out of all the nooks and crannies. Check the headlights and taillights for condensation or water. Check the spare tire well in the trunk since this is an area that scammers might not think to clean out and look for moisture beads in the instrument panel on the dashboard.

#2 Mud in hard-to-reach areas

With flooded cars, mud typically seeps into all sorts of areas and can be hard to get out. Look in the crevices of the seat belt tracks and tensioners and in the seams of the doors and trunk areas. Open the glove compartment and look for remnants of mud or silt there in the cracks and crannies and get a flashlight and check under the seats where it can be hard to get all the mud out that settled.

#3 Dodgy upholstery, carpet and fabric

Look for mud-colored stains on the carpet and upholstery and check to see if any of the carpet or fabric is loose since flooding can cause it to distort. Be on the lookout for carpet that has been replaced or any carpet or upholstery that is mismatched which can indicate some was replaced because of flood damage. In late model cars, check the headliner for replacement or sagging as a sign of water damage.

#4 Musty or damp smell

Even if the flood-damaged car for resale is cleaned up the car until it's spotless, there may still be a lingering odor. The smell of sitting water can be hard to get out of a car since it soaks into the seats and foam padding in the upholstery and carpets. So literally sniff around the car. Smell the seats, carpet, trunk and other areas. A good car shouldn't have a musty odor.

#5 Rust or corrosion in and under the car

There can be corrosion under the car in many places from water damage from a flood. Springs, shocks, brake lines and the fuel tank are all areas that can show corrosion from standing water. Check the gas and brake pedals around the pads for signs of rusts and look in the metal areas around the door when it's opened to see if there is any rust. Also, check the trunk and hood latches for rust.

You don't want to buy a vehicle that has been through a flood even if the price tag tempts you. The fuel system, airbags, brake, and other mechanical and safety features of the vehicle may be permanently compromised if the vehicle sat in storm water.

Sometimes the damage is observable to the consumer and sometimes it takes a skilled mechanic to spot a flood car that has been expertly cleaned up for sale. For your peace of mind, have any used car you're considering buying checked out.

If you're looking to buy a used Subaru of any make, model or year, bring it into the Subaru experts at Suburb Service for an inspection before you buy. We are the oldest independent Subaru Service Center in the Pacific Northwest. We know Subarus and are here to help you.

Bring any used car you're considering to our Seattle or Marysville locations for an inspection to make sure you're not buying a flood car or a lemon. Call us at (206) 705-8695 in Seattle.