Consumer Reports: Beware buying a flood-damaged car

Posted at 4:50 AM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 10:34:44-04

With flooding in the region seen after Hurricane Florence, a wave of water-logged cars could be headed to a used lot near you.

And don’t be fooled. Flood-damaged vehicles sold without disclosing the damage is illegal in most states, but that doesn`t mean it won`t happen.

Too often, when an insurance company declares a flood-damaged car a total loss, that information isn`t communicated to potential buyers.

Consumer Reports found that some flood-damaged vehicles are sold with clean titles – meaning a flood-damaged car could easily find its way back into the used car market. If a car doesn’t carry maximum insurance, flood-damage may not be disclosed in the car`s title.

Consumer Reports says a mechanic should conduct a thorough inspection, but there are things you can do too.

 The first thing you want to do is come over to the front of the car. Inhale and see if there`s any kind of moldy or musty smell. If you have that you definitely want to walk away from the car.
 Next, pop up the trim panel on the side of the door here. If the carpet is dirty, or if there`s any kind of sediment in here or rust.
 Also look in the door pockets. If there`s any kind of sediment in here or dirt or stones, that`s what happened when the water came up and into the car, and as it drained away it settled and hid in there.
 Pop off some of the caps and covers for the seat bolts. If these are scratched up or even look rusted, that means the seat was taken out so it could air dry.