How do I make sure I don’t buy a flood damaged car?

Torrential rains and floods across the country caused by hurricanes and tropical storms have damaged thousands of cars, and buying one can pose safety issues.

TAMPA, Fla. We’re in the middle of hurricane season now, with more storms coming to our oceans. Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane and brought devastating rain and flooding to the Northeast.

The flooding caused by Hurricane Ida damaged thousands of cars, some of them completely submerged and washed away miles from where they were parked.

Some of those cars may actually soon hit the used car market as the auto industry continues to deal with shortages related to the pandemic.

So if you’re in the market for a used car, how do you make sure you’re not buying a car that has suffered flood-related damage?

“The risk of buying a flood-damaged car is significant because virtually any modern car is affected by multiple electronic systems. Water and electronics don’t mix well,” said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.

He says the risk of buying a car that has been damaged by water can be dangerous.

“You may be able to live with a radio that doesn’t work but it can be a sign of more serious issues that can come later. We’re going through things like safety systems, anti-lock brakes, air conditioners or heaters. Talking about. Is there mildew or mildew growing in there?” Moody said.

He suggests avoiding cars with electrical issues.

You should also check for signs of flood damage. “Look under the carpets, so pull the floor mat back and put your hand there. If it feels wet or damp it’s not right and make sure you do the same exact thing for the trunk,” Moody said.

Also, open the hood and check the bottom. Is it sand, silt or mud? This could be an indication that the car was submerged in flood waters.

Another easy telltale sign to pay attention to is smell. Does the car smell musty or musty? When you were shown the car, was it parked with all the windows closed to reduce the smell? If the windows are fogging on the inside, this could be another sign that the car was hit by a flood or heavy rain.

You should also check the history of the vehicle. You can purchase a car past report including the states where it is registered which can help you determine if the vehicle was in an area affected by floods. You can also check if a flood claim has been issued on the car.

Look for rust, especially in places like the underside of the car and under the seats, where the bolts and screws hold it in place.

“As always, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” Moody said.

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