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Buying A Used Car? Make Sure It Hasn’t Been Submerged In One Of The Recent Floods.

Floods were a fact of life in many states in the USA this year. That means a lot of cars have been submerged – including ones that had “FOR SALE” signs.

Carfax estimates that as many as 212,000 cars may have been damaged in Hurricane Ida and that 378,000 flooded cars are back on the roads today. That means buyers need to be extra-vigilant.

If a seller is honest and informs you of water damage and offers a significant discount, it may be worth your while. (MAY be.) But many unscrupulous/criminal sellers may go to great lengths to hide the fact that their car has been in a flood.

Here are some ways to determine if your prospective baby slept with the fishes, briefly.

1 . Take a look and a feel and a sniff under the floor mats.

No matter how thoroughly someone has dried a vehicle after it’s been submerged, it’s probably still going to have moisture and/or a water for awhile. In fact, an older car with brand new floormats may be an indication that the seller is covering up water damage. Peek under the mats, give a good sniff and put your palm down on the bare floor. Check the trunk, too – lift up mats and pull out the spare tire and feel the material it rests on for dampness.

2 . Make sure all brake lights/signals/headlamps/audio system/horn work.

Water destroys anything electrical, but many people won’t think to test each and every component of a car for sale. Beep that horn, turn on that sound system, have the owner test the brake lights/directionals/headlamps/rear lamps while you stand there and physically inspect them. You don’t have to apologize, either – any reputable seller won’t object to any of these tests.

3 . Check the VIN number and run it through software such as AutoCheck. You’ll be able to see if a salvage title has been issued on the vehicle, or if a flood claim has been filed.

4 . Check for rust at key places.

This one requires getting a bit dirty, but it’s worth it. Get down underneath the car with a mag light and inspect the undercarriage for excessive rust. There are also rubber plugs under the majority of undercarriages and car doors – inspect them, too, for signs they have been removed and replaced. Then get up and closely inspect the bolts and screws under the seats for evidence of rust. While you’re there, notice any evidence that the seats have been removed and replaced, another sign of a flood fix-up. Check under the brake and gas pedals, too.

Also, put your hand in the well of the door, where people keep sunglasses and such. If there’s dirt down there, especially wet dirt, that’s a sign of submersion.

5 . Inspect the headlamps for visible water lines resulting from the car possibly being submerged.

Carefully check the “belt line” of the car, too – above and below your beltline, wherever it is. If the vehicle has been underwater for any length of time, there will most likely be a line where the water was.

The final tip is to pay a certified mechanic to give your car the once-over, not just for flood evidence, but any other mechanical issues a non-pro won’t be able to catch. It should cost about $100 dollars and may save you thousands down the road.

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