10 Ways To Spot A Flood Damaged Used Car

Look, Touch, And Sniff – A Checklist It’s always good practice to have a qualified mechanic inspect a pre-owned vehicle before signing a bill of sale, no matter what the circumstances. Otherwise, here’s 10 ways to use your eyes, hands – and nose – to help sniff out a previously flooded vehicle:

1. Check the vehicle’s title history by running its VIN (vehicle identification number) through CarFax, Experian’s Auto Check or the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck to see if it’s been reported as being flooded or salvaged.

2. Look for signs of recently shampooed or replaced carpeting or freshly cleaned upholstery that may have been performed subsequent to flooding, and look for signs of undue wear or fading on door panels.

3. Pull up a corner of the floor covering (both in the passenger compartment and trunk), and look for water residue or stain marks, signs of rust, and sniff thoroughly for evidence of mold or a musty odor. Be sure to examine the padding underneath the carpets, which can stay damp for months after flooding.

4. See if there’s water still hiding in the dashboard and interior storage cubbies. Check for moisture, mildew, or grime inside the seatbelt retractors. Look for rust on screws in the center console, the trunk lid, upper door hinges, or other unlikely areas that might have been submerged.

5. Engage the headlamps, turn signals and all electrical systems to ensure everything is in good working order. Give the door-mounted speakers a listen to determine if they’ve been damaged by flood water.

6. Open the hood and look for mud or residue in crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around small recesses in and around components.

7. Check electrical wiring and relays in the engine compartment and under the dashboard for rusted components, corrosion or water residue. Check aluminum and alloy parts for a white power and pitting.

8. Examine the vehicle’s air filter (it’s usually under a plastic panel under the hood) - if it gets wet, the paper will look crumpled even after it’s dried.

9. Check for water or signs of condensation in the headlamps and taillights, on the instrument panel gauges, and even within the overhead dome light.

10. Look under the car, in wheel-wells and around door, hood and trunk panels for evidence of rust not otherwise associated with later-model cars.

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