Weather has been changing all over our nation and unfortunately Colorado residents got a bitter reminder of that with the recent floods. High water from overflowing rivers and streams ruined homes and businesses. Sadly, pictures like these are all too common right now. Cars that are buried in mud and water. When exposed to deep flood levels, soaked cars are often classified as totaled and then demolished. It is too bad that sometimes unethical and dishonest people take advantage of the situation and flood-damaged cars end up on used car lots. Here are some steps you can take to avoid buying flood-damaged cars.
- Be a smart shopper. Always shop at a reputable dealership. Dealerships with good reputations won’t risk losing them by cheating their customers. Always ask if the car you’re interested in has been damaged by floods, and get the answer in writing. If there is any hesitation, you should be concerned. Also ask to see the title, some states are required by law to stamp the title of a damaged car that reads “Flood” or “Salvage” .
- The Sniff Test. The quickest way to tell if a car has had flood-damage is to smell it. If the car smells musty or moldy, it probably has had some type of water damage. It is very difficult to get rid of a moldy aroma and if there is any mildew formation, you should walk away.
- Corrosion Clues. Corrosion is common in flood-damaged cars and continues to eat away at materials long after the car is dry. Look for signs of corrosion on metals both inside and out. Concentrating on door hinges, trunk latches, and hood springs.
- Take a test drive. A compromised electrical system is a serious and potentially life-threatening hazard that is natural in cars exposed to high waters for extended periods of time. You want to make sure all the electrical components are operational. Take the car on a test drive and try out all the electronics, dashboard lights, headlights, turn signals, emergency blinkers, air conditioning, heater, wipers, cigarette lighter, and radio.
- Check the oil. Oil in a flood-damaged car will have changes in the color and thickness. The oil may be pale when it should be dark or runny when it should be thick. Also take a look at the air filter and check for water stains, that’s another sign that water might have been where it shouldn’t be.
Even if you have completed each of these steps and feel good about the car, you should still take it to a good mechanic so he can fully inspect the parts of the car that aren’t clearly visible, like the brakes and wheel components, wiring mechanisms and the alternator. All these steps can help you avoid flood-damaged cars.