A Growing Concern
It's estimated that the number of waterlogged wrecks on the market has doubled in recent years, despite the fact that most flood-damaged vehicles are written off by insurance companies. Indeed, many of the cars make their way back to the used-car market, rebuilt and disguised as ordinary used cars with clean titles. Fortunately, there are ways to spot the telltale signs of a flood-damaged car. Carfax offers these tips:
Check the trunk, dashboard and glove compartment for silt, mud, rust and other signs of water damage. You should also examine upholstery and carpeting closely. If it doesn't match the interior or fits loosely, it may have been replaced. Discolored, faded or stained materials might indicate water damage.
Run A Test
Test the interior and exterior lights, as well as the windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to be certain they work. Also, turn the ignition key and make sure the accessory and warning lights and gauges work properly. Be certain the ABS and air bag lights come on, too.
The Nose Knows
Smell the interior of the car to check for musty odors. It's also smart to flex some of the wires beneath the dashboard. Wet wires become brittle upon drying and may crack.
Get A Second Opinion
Bring the car to a trusted mechanic for a prepurchase inspection. Always get a vehicle checked before handing money over.
Know Your History
Ask to see a detailed vehicle history report. Thousands of reputable dealers provide them free--just say "Show Me the Carfax." A Carfax Vehicle History Report can reveal any number of hidden problems from a vehicle's past, including flood titles. Used-car shoppers worried about flood damage also can check for free at www.carfax.com/flood. For more information, visit www.carfax.com.