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Check That New Car For Flood Damage

When buying a car it is not unusually to take proactive steps to make sure that it runs properly, or even that it has not been previously damaged in an accident. One thing many buyers do tend to forget however, is to check and make sure that the car was not involved in any sort of flood.  The fact is that any time flood damages an area, automobiles are affected, and these cars are not always totaled or even recorded properly by insurance companies. As a result, flood damaged cars pop up on used car lots all over the country, ready for purchase by unsuspecting consumers.

Flood damaged cars should be totaled out and destroyed, but in many cases they end up at auction without even so much as a salvage title to alert future buyers that it has a history.

If you discover that you have purchased a flood damaged car, here is the lowdown:

There is no manufacturer’s warranty that is going to cover flood damage, and many of these vehicles are known to stop suddenly in the middle of the road, causing collisions. In cases involving these cars, the airbags, seat belts, and anti-lock brakes do not always function as they should.  These vehicles are not safe and right now there may be more than a half million of them on US roads.

So how do you avoid buying a flood damaged car? First off, buy from reputable dealers, not the guy operating out of a single wide trailer in the less than desirable part of town. Reputable dealers are not going to risk their reputations by selling a car that is anything short of perfect (or as perfect as it can get).

Make sure the VIN numbers match on all pieces of the car….sticker, dashboard tag, etc.  Look around the car’s interior for signs of water damage, a water line, stains….check door panels, radiators, wheel wells, and seat cushions.  If you spot rust in unusual places like door hinges, hood springs, or trunk latches, that is a great sign that the car has seen some flooding action.

Look for signs of water within the exterior lighting, as well as paper air filters, a sure fire sign of flood damage.  Don’t be afraid to ask if the vehicle has flood damage. Damage to vehicles is required by law to be disclosed. Ask to see the title, and even if it does not have “flood” or “salvage” stamped on it, make sure to do a thorough inspection.

Remember that only a small percentage of these cars are reported to agencies, so make sure you have a qualified ASE technician inspect the vehicle before making any offer or signing any contract.

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