What Every Car Buyer Needs To Know About Flooded Vehicles On The Market

After Hurricane Sandy flooded the northeast, consumers were warned about the potential of flood damaged vehicles being sold on the market. With recent flooding alerts extending 800 miles from Texas to Missouri, people throughout the United States are watching news reports and seeing vehicles bobbing in strong currents of flood water. Because of this, you may need a refresher on what to look out for when buying a new vehicle.

Damage a flood does to a vehicle

Water corrodes wiring, other electrical components and the computer systems. Unfortunately, the corrosion often doesn't occur until weeks or months later. For this reason, many car owners attempt to sell their flooded cars as quickly as possible before corrosion starts causing problems.

Flood water is dirty, which means dirt may have gotten inside the electrical parts. This contamination could lead to problems such as the vehicle windows and door locks not operating. The heating and air conditioning systems may malfunction as well. The brakes and rotors may be damaged due to corrosion and dirt, which can make for dangerous driving conditions.

Other mechanical parts, including the engine and transmission, could become damaged due to corrosion. However, these systems are sealed tightly, so the flood waters should not get into them unless the vehicles are submersed entirely.

Obvious signs of flood damage

There are several obvious signs of flood damage that you can look for when on the hunt for your next vehicle purchase. One thing that may stand out the most in flooded vehicles is the condition of the carpeting and upholstery. There may be a musty odor and water lines in the material.

However, sometimes sellers replace the carpeting and upholstery to get rid of these obvious warning signs. Therefore, if you are checking over a used vehicle that has new carpeting and/or upholstery, it's safer to assume that the vehicle was flooded than to take the risk.

Of course, sellers attempt to dry out and clean up vehicles before putting them on the market. But they often miss several areas. Run your fingertips underneath and inside of the bumpers. If there is sediment, mud or dirt, you can assume the vehicle was flooded.

Buy used vehicles from reputable dealers

Even if you are not in an area that was inundated with flooding, it's still important to look for warning signs of flood damage. Given that people within the flooded community are fully aware of the problem with flooded vehicles, some sellers may take their vehicles out of the area to sell, in hopes of finding an unsuspecting buyer.

It is illegal to sell vehicles that have been flooded without disclosing the damages to the buyers. For both of these reasons, it's extremely important to purchase your vehicles through reputable dealers. Dealerships are not going to risk their businesses by knowingly selling flooded vehicles.

Title may not say the vehicle was damaged in a flood

One way to tell if a vehicle has been flooded is to look at the title. The title will say if the vehicle has been in a flood, but only if the person who owned the vehicle at the time of the flooding had reported the damage to their insurance company.

If no claim was made on the insurance, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles would not have been notified of the flood damage. So, you don't want to assume that the vehicle was never flooded just by the label on the vehicle title.

If you do take the risk of buying a vehicle from a private seller, hire a mechanic to check the vehicle over. Voice your concerns of purchasing a vehicle that may have been damaged in a flood. However, to make a safer purchase, buy from a car dealership. For more information about used car dealers in your area, visit http://www.upicksave.com