John Nielsen: Many Americans have been devastated by flooding in the past few years. While you may not have been directly hit by storm or flood waters, the car you hope to purchase may have. With a little knowhow you can learn to protect yourself from buying a flood damaged car.
Obtaining a CARFAX vehicle history report can potentially reveal if the vehicle has been involved in a flood, major accident; fire or uncover odometer fraud. Flood damaged vehicles can be shipped anywhere for resale and they can appear on the market for up to a year or more after a major flood.
If the vehicle history checks out, engage your senses to really investigate the car. Smell to detect any damp or musty odors inside the vehicle. Look to see if the carpet or upholstery has been replaced or recently shampooed.
Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains. Inspect the particularly hard to clean areas underneath the dashboard for signs of mud and dirt. Look under the vehicle for corrosion, because it's uncommon to find corrosion in newer vehicles and those that are owned or sold in the southern states.
Open the hood, trunk and all of the doors to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration of the door frames, hinges and under the weatherstripping. Pay special attention to small places and crevices that are difficult to clean.
Check all warning lights, window motors and electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a single non-working part doesn't mean the vehicle was flooded, yet combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.
Play it safe by following these simple steps and always having the vehicle inspected by a quality repair facility prior to purchasing.