Unhappy used car shoppers are finding out unpleasant information after purchasing used cars. They are finding out that their cars have been damaged in floods and they didn’t realize it before purchasing the car itself. Here are some tips that can help make you a better used car shopper and avoid being stuck with a vehicle that has many hidden repairs needed which can cost you much more than you planned on spending when you purchased that used vehicle.
Water damage is something that can be much easier to hide than it is to repair, that is why you need to inspect in hidden areas to determine if the used car you are considering buying might have flood damage. Inside the car the first thing you should do is to give the car a good sniff test. Don’t be afraid to put your nose down near the floor, either. Many dealers use fragrances that are sprayed in but see if you can detect a moldy tinge to the air, that would be a definitely warning sign. Also feel the carpet of the car, many times cars with flood damage have water trapped under the carpet that remains there and is not detected. When inspecting the carpet, note if it is new. If it is and the car is an older model, made sure you ask the sales person why the new carpet was installed in the car and have the answer documented if you buy the car in case you need to refer to that conversation due to a complaint you have after purchasing.
Another item to inspect while you are still on the floor of the car is the brake and gas pedals. You will want to look under the pedals to see if there is any signs of wear from water including rust. That is not the only metal pieces you can use though for indications, also check the bolts and screws under the seats as well.
Remaining inside the car you should also check the trunk, once again inspect it’s carpet. Also check where the spare tire is stored in the trunk as this can store water and give you an indication if this car might have been in a flood. While inspecting that area you are not just looking for water; rust, dirt, or sand could indicate that the car had at one time experienced flood damage. After checking all these details in the inside of the car, before moving to the outside, try all the features of the electronics system including power windows, locks, radio, sunroof, etc. to make sure there is no electrical damage from flooding.
Outside the car it’s time to get dirty. Look underneath the car itself at the carriage. If you see a large amount of rust, then it’s a sign that this is not the car for you. On the sides of the car check for any signs of corrosion, espcially towards the bottom of the doors and the door edges. If you notice a brown line around the outside of the car this is a sign of the water level the car sat in and again is a reason to stay far away from it. The line will not be obvious so don’t be afraid to look closely, remember you are the buyer and have a right to inspect the vehicle.
The final step is to contact an information provider such as Carfax or Autocheck to find out if there are any reports of flood claims or salvage reports. After you have made all these inspections you can decide if it is safe to assume it has not been exposed to flood damage. If you have any questions ask the dealer questions, and ask them if they will be willing to document their answers. If they refuse, then once again this is a good sign that this is not the car for you. Yet, if everything looks good and it’s the car you want you can now purchase it feeling much more secure it has experienced no flood damage.