Statistics from the recent flooding in parts of Texas and Florida show that used car dealers are worst hit and experts have warned potential buyers to watch out for hidden dangers.
Are you thinking of getting good deals in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma? Think twice. There are speculations that the number of flood-damaged cars in the market will rise in a few weeks.
Christopher Basso, an experienced vehicle-history provider who works with Carfax thinks the year 2017 will be a very bad year for both buyers and sellers in the automobile industry.
Speaking to Fox News, the auto expert said, “There will be terrible experiences and losses in the market. The records will be unprecedented because the number of damaged cars are very high; most of them will be cleaned up and resold immediately or later on.”
Basso also revealed that even before the recent natural disasters, chances of flood-damaged cars hitting the roads again had increased by 20 percent.
Cox Automotive said Hurricanes Harvey and Irma affected between 500,000 and 1,000,000 vehicles.
In Basso’s opinion, all affected cars are like landmines. He advised buyers to carry out thorough checks with experienced mechanics before purchasing their dream cars.
In his words, “It’s like putting a computer into a bathtub. It’s really impossible to tell when it’s going to break those systems down, but sooner or later the mechanical, the electrical, and the safety systems could be compromised which puts you and your family in danger.”
Flood-damaged cars are very unreliable vehicles because auto rebuilders may be able to hide most of the cosmetic flood damage.
It extremely difficult to completely fix an engine that has been flooded. The car may look decent on the outside, but could be rusting from the inside. Apart from the danger to lives, it keeps you at risk for major costly repairs.
Here’s how you can tell if a car has survived flooding:
Use your common senses to sniff out water damage on a car. The most obvious signs of flood damage are the same as anywhere: smell and watermarks. If you pick up a damp, mildewy scent, be suspicious of where the car has been.
That smell is strongest if the car has been sitting with its windows closed for a while. Equally telling is the opposite smell of cleaning agents and car fresheners trying to mask the mold.
Water damage is sometimes visible. Think of what happens to fabric, like on a couch, when you spill a glass of water. Even dry, that ring never goes away.
Look for those marks on all the interior fabrics of the used car, including:
- Ceiling fabric
- Seat belts.
You should also keep an eye out for recently updated fabric. A new rug on an older car, or non-matching fabrics/upholstery, can be red flags.
Sometimes you will also see mud or silt left over from the flood. This and other debris get caught in all the nooks and crannies of a car, and are hard to clean out. Be sure to check under the rugs, seats, and spare tire in the trunk for any pooling water or muddy residue. Headlights also trap moisture, so don’t forget to take a close look at those.
Rust can also be a sign of water damage that is hard to conceal. Rust on the inside of the car will be especially telling since that is one place rust shouldn’t show up through normal wear and tear.
Electrical and Mechanical Components
A car with extensive water damage may have problems with its electrical components. Test out every electrical element, including its:
You may also feel a difference in the ride when you test drive the car. The engine may not run as smoothly.