When it comes to buying a used car, there are certain things everyone looks at: mileage, body damage, brakes, and transmission. However, it is prudent to check to see if the car has been involved in a natural disaster, specifically, a flood.
There are many cars that have been through floods and suffered severe damage. The owners may have taken taken the insurance money and sold the car to a dealer or junkyard. These cars don't always end up being crushed for scrap. Often times they are cosmetically fine. The problems are hidden from plain view. Unscrupulous dealers will fix them up and try and sell them to unknowing buyers.
What Is Wrong With A Car That Went Through A Flood?
Water is a problem for every single component of the car. The most visible things are easily fixed. The seats will be reupholstered or completely replaced. Carpets and other fabric will also be fixed. The problem is with the areas that you can't see at first glance. The engine, electrical components, brake lines, and many other areas can be critically compromised. They might seem all right on a test drive, but they can cause a major problem down the road.
Buying Local Isn't A Safeguard
One common misconception is that you don't have to worry if you live in an area that doesn't experience hurricanes or flooding. The problem with this line of thought is that used cars are sold to dealers and shipped across the country.
After hurricane Katrina, used cars from the area were shipped across the country and sold to unsuspecting buyers. You might walk into a small dealership in your hometown and end up purchasing a car that was shipped 3000 miles the day before.
What To Look For
There are a few telltale signs of water damage. The first is smell. If you smell mold in the car, then you know that there is a serious issue. The carpets might have been replaced or dry vacuumed, but the chassis might be rusting away underneath.
If the upholstery is new and the car is otherwise in rough shape, then you should be concerned. The new upholstery might have been put in to replace the old, waterlogged fabric.
Likewise, you should check to see if there is any condensation inside of the headlights or taillights. Often times water gets inside the enclosure during a flood and the dealer will forget to fix it before selling the car.
Check Out The Car's History
Besides looking at the car, you should also do some online research. There are places where you can search the VIN, such as Instavin. This will give you a background on the car. If there was a claim put in that it was damaged, then it will be on record.