So you're shopping for used cars for sale but you're concerned that the car you are going to see maybe a flood damaged car. Maybe the used car lot either doesn't know its past history except where they bought it from, or maybe they just don't want to tell you if the car has been previously declared salvage. The deal seems good, but is it to good to be true?
First let's start with the obvious, if used car classifieds seem to good to be true, then they likely are. You get what you pay for to some extent, but what you don't want to do is get less than you pay for and that's often the case for people who unknowingly are lead on to purchase flood damaged builds. So here are a few tips to remember on your next used car search.
Bring a flash light - evidence of flood damage often is in hard to see areas
Check the carpet - does it look replaced or have evidence of water damage
Check the interior screws - do they look rusted or recently replaced
Check the cavities - spare tire holes, glove boxes, and other compartments for mud or debris
Check the electrical - do any of the electrical systems seem to have failed
Check the smell - do you smell mold or mildew
Check the Carfax - has the cars prior owner been in an area of a recent natural disaster
Check it with a mechanic - have someone really get under the car with a practiced eye
Now here is why you should follow these tips on your next used car search. First many damaged cars are cleaned before they are sold. In order to see where evidence lingers, you have to be able to see where others might not. Bring a flash light or pen light. Next check the carpet of the used car for sale. Does it look like it has been replaced? Or is there evidence of a possible water line?
Next about the screws, some rust on a much older model car might be normal, but if the car is just a few years old, and its rusting inside a fair question to ask is why. Also check the mounting screws for the seats. While it's common for used cars to be cleaned, it's uncommon for the seats to be removed to do so. And check the electrical, while it maybe not a sure sign of a flood damaged car to come across a bad electronic piece during your car comparison search it is certainly a big flag for any used car classifieds to have undisclosed electronic issues. Also check the wires themselves if possible, newer model used cars shouldn't have brittle dried out wires.
Lastly while inside the vehicle check the smell. If it smells like mold then chances are there is mold. Mold means water damage and health hazards. And don't be afraid to turn to the experts for help. Carfax isn't a fool proof system and has been duped before by clever scam artist or used car lot, but it can often offer clues that your car comparison would never have otherwise. And if you're really serious get a mechanic to hoist the car up and look underneath for damage. A car that sat in water only a foot or two deep can still have major problems on the bottom where it counts.