In you’re in the market for a new or used car, be on the alert for flood-damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy. This warning applies to all buyers across the United States.
Unfortunately, there are underhanded dealers who dry and clean flooded vehicles, wash the titles (remove the word “salvage” from the title), and then ship them across the country to be sold to unsuspecting consumers. Cosmetically these doctored cars look fine on the outside, but inside they’re slowly corroding, making them unsafe to drive; lemons in the true sense.
Telltale Signs of a Flooded Vehicle
If you’re currently in the market for a new car, be on the lookout for the following signs indicative of a flood-damaged vehicle:
- Signs of mildew or mold in the interior.
- Silt, mud, or rust in the trunk or under the seats.
- The interior of the vehicle smells musty or over-perfumed.
- The carpeting doesn’t match the upholstery and is loosely fitted.
- Wires under the dashboard are brittle and crack when you bend them.
- After starting the car, not all of the dashboard lights and gauges function properly.
- The vehicle is being sold well below its Blue Book market price. If the price appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Protect Yourself From Buying a Flooded Car
Even if you don’t suspect the car you’re eyeing has been flood damaged, protect yourself by:
- Ordering a vehicle history report. With this document you’ll learn the car’s entire history, including number of owners, service records, and whether it was ever registered/titled in a hurricane-prone area.
- Having a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle.
- Inspecting the car’s title to see if it has been branded as “junk,” “flooded,” “salvage,” or “rebuilt.” If you suspect anything has been doctored or laundered on the title, walk away.
- Refraining from buying a vehicle unseen over the Internet.