to spot a flood-damaged car
record number of vehicles have been affected by recent hurricanes. The National Automobile Dealers Association
says that Hurricane Katrina alone may have damaged a many as 400,000 cars. And many of those flood-damaged vehicles may
find their way to the used car market.
damage may be difficult to spot, but it can ruin electronics, contaminate
lubricants, and threaten mechanical systems, often without leaving outward
signs. It can take months for incipient
corrosion to find its way to the car’s computer systems or air-bag controllers.
are some quick checks that used car shoppers can perform:
seat-mounting screws for evidence that they have been removed. Seats must be removed to thoroughly clean and
dry the carpets.
lights. Lights are expensive to replace,
and a waterline may still show on the lens or the reflector.
difficult to clean places, such as panel gaps in the trunk and under the
hood. Mud and debris may remain in these
Look for mud or
debris on the bottom edges of brackets or panels where it couldn’tt
naturally settle from the air.
Look at the
heads of any unpainted, exposed screws under the dashboard. Any unpainted metal in flooded cars may show
signs of rust.
Check the rubber
drain plugs under the car and on the bottoms of doors. If they have been removed, it might have been
done to drain floodwater.
If you need to
dig deeper, remove a door panel to see whether there is a watermark on the
inside of the panel or the separator(s).