Flood Damaged Cars Hit the Resale Lots

flood damage
When purchasing a used vehicle, check for previous flood damage to avoid buying a water-damaged automobile.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) warns Texans to use caution when buying a used vehicle, especially with the recent flooding in the surrounding areas.

Unscrupulous sellers purchase salvaged cars at auctions and then resell them to unsuspecting buyers.

Once an engine is saturated, it is almost impossible to fix.

“A used car shortage is driving prices up, so it’s more important than ever to be informed and know the signs of water damage,” said Doug Slape, TDI’s chief deputy commissioner.

Some obvious signs that a vehicle was previously underwater are stains, mildew, rust, and interior discoloration. When mold and mildew are present, a musty odor is present. Additionally, heavy air fresheners may be used to mask a musty smell.

Remember to search under the floor mats, carpet, and spare tire. Many times the dirt and flood debris can remain after a flood.

If you have looked at a vehicle and it does not show any signs of being in a flood, check the title. The TDI says, “When a vehicle is declared a total loss, the title must be changed to salvage or non-repairable title. You can ask to see the title, and a vehicle history report will list the status of the title.”

After checking the title, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NIBC) offers a free service called VINCheck. The NICB will display if the vehicle was stolen or previously listed as a total loss by an insurance company.

Finally, take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a brief inspection. Often, flood damage is not apparent, but a mechanic may notice damage that you may not see.

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