Hundreds of thousands of cars were damaged by flooding caused by both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, and many of them are expected to be sold on the used car market, placing future buyers at a significant safety risk. Immersion in water can wreak havoc on a car, especially its engine, electrical system, and interior.
We recommend taking the following steps to determine if a vehicle has been flood damaged:
1. Take the sniff test
Close all the windows and doors and let the car for about five minutes then crack open a door and sniff. Mildew and mold have very distinctive smells and it doesn’t take long for that smell to present itself.
2. Thoroughly inspect the interior of the car
Potential buyers should also check inside the glove compartment or in-between the seats for the appearance of residual sludge or debris. Look under the seats and dash for corrosion and rust and look for exposed metal that is untreated. There are metal springs under the front seats that are usually not painted. If they are rusted that is a sign the interior has been wet. Look for mud and debris in places it does not belong.
3. Try the touch test
Get some paper towels and press them against the low spots on the carpet. The paper towels will draw the moisture out and reveal if the carpet is wet under the surface. Some carpets can be several inches thick to insulate from heat and sound. If the paper towel becomes wet it could mean water has gotten into the car.
4. Take it to a professional
Let a service and repair technician inspect your vehicle. They can raise the car and look underneath to see if there is any mud, sticks or rocks in the suspension. A professional can check the oil in the differentials to make sure they contain no water in them. Spend a few dollars to have it looked over to give you peace of mind.
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