How to Avoid Buying a Flood-Damaged Car
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Buying a car, particularly a used vehicle, is always nerve-wracking. You have to trust the previous owner’s honesty about the car's mechanical history and maintenance records.
While it's impossible to purchase a used vehicle without an element of risk, there are steps you can take so you avoid buying a car with flood damage.
Why you shouldn't buy a flood-damaged car
People usually purchase a flood-damaged car because they are attracted to the low asking price. The vehicle's current owner is usually ready to accept an even lower offer; making it an attractive option.
The Lemon Squad advises drivers to avoid buying flood-damaged cars because they often require costly repairs to continue running. This is true even of vehicles that appear to be perfectly fine on the day you purchase them.
Flood-damaged cars may seem fine immediately after a flood, however, the electrical components start corroding over time. As the corrosion grows worse, the vehicle becomes increasingly unreliable.
Another concern connected to flood damage is mold. Mold can grow anywhere that remains in a dark, damp area. The presence of mold can cause the driver to develop headaches and respiratory problems over time.
How to avoid buying a flood-damaged car
When you first inspect a vehicle, let your nose do some searching. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. If the vehicle smells moldy, musty, or just damp, it's in your best interest to walk away.
Take a look at both the headlights and the taillights. These lights usually have a watermark that not only indicates that the vehicle was in a flood, but will also show you how high the water went.
Inspect the areas that are typically not checked and that could also be hard to clean. This means the far corners of the trunk, behind the back seats, and deep under the seats. In many flood-damaged cars, you'll find dried mud, water stains, and even mold. Rust in these unusual places is also an indicator of flood damage.
The floor mats can also yield important clues that the car is flood-damaged. You want to check for water stains and mold under the floor mats. If you're looking at an older vehicle that has new floor mats, you should ask the owner lots of questions about why they decided to replace the floor mats.
The best way to avoid buying a flood-damaged car is to have a mechanic who has experience with automotive electrical systems inspect the vehicle before you purchase it. Drivers Lane advises that anyone looking at a vehicle that suddenly appeared on the market after a flooding situation should be approached with care.
Examine the title
You can learn a lot about a vehicle’s history by looking at the title. A salvage, or rebuilt title, indicates that the vehicle sustained some type of damage, either flood or accident, and was totaled by the insurance company.
Vehicles that have been totaled for flood damage and not repaired will be sold with a salvage title. Vehicles that have been salvaged and allegedly repaired will be sold with a rebuilt title.
You should be especially wary of vehicles that are being sold without a title because it's likely that they have been damaged in a flood, but the owners lacked the necessary insurance to cover the cost of replacing the vehicle.
You never know when you and your vehicle might be caught in a flood. Protect yourself by using the Jerry app to get a flood-focused insurance policy customized to you!