Flood-damaged cars come with problems – KCTV Kansas City

Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2016

(RNN) – Avoid unknowingly driving away with a flood-damaged car, federal officials say. Cars submerged under water can come with problems that are expensive to repair. 

Some experts say that up to half the vehicles damaged in floods are put up for sale.

“Flood-damaged cars end up going places where consumers don’t suspect it,” Larry Gamache, Carfax’s communications director, told edmunds.com. Another Carfax spokesman said flood-damaged cars are sold more often in private-party sales than on dealer lots because reputable dealers use vehicle history reports to avoid such problems. 

You should closely inspect every used car and its records before you buy. Cars submerged in a flood may have been cleaned up so thoroughly – with their upholstery and carpeting recently shampooed – that at first glance problems may not be obvious. 

Some problems, such as rust and corrosion, may take a while to become known. Questions may linger about the long-term life of computer systems that work initially and about parts that drivers hope to never need, notably airbags. 

Some people intentionally buy flood-damaged cars, including car enthusiasts who rebuild them, but anyone who does so could sooner rather than later have to make major repairs. 

Before you begin your test drive, inspect the car’s undercarriage. You’re looking for rust and flaking, which you should not find on a late-model car. 

On your test drive, note whether all the dashboard lights come on, unusual sounds and how the car performs – starts, accelerates, steers and brakes. Test the ignition, exterior and interior lights, all the speakers, power windows, wipers, heater and air conditioner. 

If the car’s interior smells of cleaners and disinfectants, that may be an attempt to mask a mold or odor problem, the Federal Trade Commission said.

The FTC suggests that you have a mechanic check out all the car’s mechanical and electrical components, especially noting the condition of all wires. The mechanic should look for mud in alternator crevices and around the recesses of starter motors. 

Of course, the systems that contain fluids should not have water contamination. 

You should also take these steps, the FTC said:

  • See if there is fogging inside the headlights and taillights.
  • Look for water stains, mildew, sand or silt under the carpet, floor mats and dashboard and in the wheel well, where the spare is stored.
  • Get a vehicle history report. You can buy one from a reliable service for a small fee. Or for free you can get access to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s free database that lists flood damage and other information. You should search the database in addition to inspecting the car thoroughly.
  • Understand the difference between a salvage title and a flood title. A salvage title means an insurance company declared the car a total loss because of a serious accident or other problems. A flood title means the car has damage from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment. 
  • Report fraud. If you suspect a dealer is knowingly selling a storm-damaged car or a salvaged vehicle as a good-condition used car, help someone else avoid a rip-off. Contact your auto insurance company, local law enforcement agency or the NICB at 800 835 6422. 

Copyright 2016 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved. 


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