Given the great amount of flooding we’ve see this past year used car shoppers – including those not on the East or Gulf coasts – should be on the lookout for flood-damaged vehicles that often hit the market during and after the hurricane season, says Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information. The advisory comes just days after Hurricane Irene caused flooding in several U.S. cities and 10 inches of rain fell in Louisiana. Other storms threaten the U.S. as hurricane season continues.

“Once owners of damaged cars settle up with their insurance companies, vehicles are sometimes refurbished and resold, usually to an unsuspecting buyer in a state unaffected by the disaster”

“Once owners of damaged cars settle up with their insurance companies, vehicles are sometimes refurbished and resold, usually to an unsuspecting buyer in a state unaffected by the disaster,” says Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Associate Ron Montoya. “Electrical and mechanical problems can then surface long after the seller is gone, leaving the new owner with an unreliable car and no recourse against the seller.”

The most effective way for a used car buyer to weed out a water-damaged vehicle is to obtain a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax and Experian’s AutoCheck. The report will call out specific designations designed to alert future buyers about a car’s integrity. A “salvage title” means that the car was declared a total loss by an insurance company, either because of a serious accident or any other problems. A “flood title” lets future buyers know that the car has damage from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment.

Edmunds.com also advises buyers to look for the following characteristics typical of a flood-damaged vehicle:

  • Musty or moldy odors inside the car
  • Discolored carpeting and upholstery
  • Fogging inside headlamps
  • Rust and flaking metal in the undercarriage
  • Dirt buildup in unusual areas

For more information on how to protect yourself against buying a flood-damaged car, please visit Edmunds.com.



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