Storm damaged cars hit market

Source AAA

If you're in the market for a used auto, you may want to check it over for flood damage.

New research from Carfax suggests that drivers may be behind the wheel of more than 325,000 previously flooded vehicles. Maybe the interior can be cleaned and the mechanical systems repaired, but Popular Mechanics says the complex and intricate electrical systems in today's vehicles are probably beyond fix if they were submerged.

"The water can impact the electrical, safety and mechanical systems of the vehicle; sometimes all at once", Basso said. "Health concerns are an added problem, as mold and bacteria permeate the soft parts of the auto". They say you need to get started before the insurance adjuster arrives, because there is no guarantee he or she can get there right away, especially if there has been widespread flooding.

They are now offering free flood checks on their website to help consumers avoid buying flood-damaged cars. "They can, and do, show up all over the country, whether it be a few miles or hundreds of miles from where the flooding occurred. Start with a thorough test drive, a vehicle history report and a mechanic's inspection before buying any used auto". And since 2016, there's been a 20 percent increase in flooded cars that are now back in use. However, some clever auto chop shops will attempt to hide any damage in order to make a sale.

Here are a few ways you can spot a flood-damaged vehicle. This check can uncover a vehicle's status as "salvage" or "non-repairable", as well as maintenance problems, collisions, insurance claims and titles issued in other states. The expert in vehicle history since 1984, Carfax provides exclusive services like Carfax Used Car Listings, myCarfax, Carfax History-Based Value and the flagship Carfax® Vehicle History Report™ to consumers and the automotive industry.

Flooding can wreak havoc on a vehicle.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, "a salvage title means the vehicle was declared a total loss by an insurance company because of a serious accident or some other problems".

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The corrosion from the water and salt can also cause a vehicle to rust from the inside, out. Mildew smells can be a giveaway.

"Be alert for damp and musty odors", Mariam Ali, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association, told weather.com in a phone interview. Check under the dashboard and other hard-to-reach places as well.

There are classic signs that a vehicle has been underwater.

Potential buyers should also check inside the glove compartment or in-between the seats for the appearance of residual sludge or debris.

After floods, people fix up the cars and try to sell the cars at extremely low costs.

Consumer Reports notes that a "visible water line may still show on the lens or reflector". If water has gotten into the engine, starting it can cause even worse damage.

"I have one customer that went $3,000-4,000 dollars into a vehicle they had just purchased and they purchased it for the value price of the vehicle and had no idea", Hill said. Not as common up here, said Newman. "Also, around the edges of the carpet in the vehicle".

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