Due to the rampant occurrence of flooding mostly caused by hurricanes such as Irma and Harvey, there has been an influx of hundreds of thousands of cars damaged by flooding in the used car market. This is placing future buyers at a significant safety risk upon buying these used vehicles. Therefore the consumers have to have due diligence before purchasing these vehicles. In this article, we will focus on how you can determine whether a vehicle has been damaged by water.
1) Verify the vehicle identification number.
The first step a consumer should always take is checking the vehicle identification numbers with CarFax, Experian’s Auto Check or the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck before making any used vehicle purchases. These firms will provide a crucial vehicle history report. This may include whether a vehicle has been reported as flood-damaged or given a salvage title. One should be cautious when buying used vehicles from countries that have recently been hit by floods or storms. When a car is given a salvage title it means that the car has been declared a total loss by an insurance company due to a serious accident or some other problems, while a flood title means that the car has incurred damages from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment.
2) Keenly inspect the interior of the car.
When inspecting the vehicle, and you come across a musty, mildew odor be warned since this is a dead giveaway that car has been suffered water damage. Check for dirt build-up in unusual places such as below the dashboard and pull back car carpeting, check to identify if there are signs of staining. You should also check in-between the seats or inside the glove compartment, whether any residual debris or sludge appears.
Be smart since some used car sellers usually try to conceal the appearance of a flood-damaged car by offering aesthetic upgrades to the car such as a brand new interior fabric or using excessive car deodorizer or shampooed carpeting to mask any odor. In case you come across such features in a car treat it as a suspect of water damage, especially if the rest of the vehicle appears to be weathered.
3) Inspect for moisture in the lights.
In case of a water damaged vehicle, one will be able to note a water line on the lens or reflector. Moisture beads and fog usually build up in light fixtures if a car is flood damaged and is hard to remove and therefore it will be a clear indication of water damage in the car.
4) Check for rust under the vehicle.
Another good way is to take a cautious look below the vehicle and try to see any type of rust. This helps to know if the vehicle has been damaged by floodwater.
5) Investigate wiring
A car wiring is more prone and quick to rust in case of flood damage and therefore one should inspect the vehicles wiring first.
6) Inspect drain plugs
Check if the rubber drain plugs located under vehicles and under doors have been tampered with. If so this should be an indicator that the vehicle has been involved in flooding and they were removed to drain the water.
7) Request a mechanic that you trust examines the vehicle
The last step should be involving an expert to offer you a second opinion about the state of a vehicle since he’ll identify things that you missed on your first review.