Here is a heads up for those who may be shopping for a used car. If you are not careful, you could be stuck with a vehicle that was damaged by a flood.
With all the cars that were damaged in floods and hurricanes last year, this could be a real problem this year. Consumers need to use all of their senses and gut instinct when checking out a car.
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Watch out for watermarks, mud or rust in unusual areas. Pay attention to odd noises when test driving. Sometimes the wiring will feel brittle or the carpet or upholstery may feel dried out or odd. You might notice a musty smell or strong air fresheners that try to mask a smell. And, the way that the car is being presented by the seller could leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Trust this gut instinct. All of these things could be tipping you off to a flood-damaged car.
If the owner of the vehicle did not file a claim with an insurance company or they had work done at a shop that does not report damage or repairs, Carfax and Auto Check may have no information that the vehicle was flood damaged.
Most important, buy from a reputable seller. Be especially careful when buying online or from a private seller. If possible, take someone with you who might see things that you might miss. And, before you pay money or agree to a purchase, have the vehicle checked out with a qualified mechanic that has no relationship with the seller. The mechanic may charge a fee to check things over, but this fee could pale in comparison to what you might lose if the vehicle is in bad shape.