Buyers beware: Storm-damaged vehicles headed for used auto market

Buyers beware: Storm-damaged vehicles headed for used auto market”

He also advises checking under the carpet of the auto.

"Car places will go down to a place like Florida where it (hurricanes) happened and buy those cars for cheap and bring them back", he said.

That's a 20% increase over a year ago and doesn't take into account the impact from the recent hurricanes. Musty or moldy odors inside the vehicle are a sign of mildew buildup from prolonged exposure to water.

Here's what you should look for when buying a used vehicle. Water damage leaves a distinctive smell.

The company offers a step by step guide here. Get under the vehicle and check the suspension for water damage.

"A lot of them have extensive electrical damage". It's why experts are warning you to be extra vigilant next time you buy a vehicle.

In accordance with federal law, flood damage must be disclosed on a car's title by a salesperson, according to KTVB. That's especially true if the flooding was caused by salt water.

Floodwater damages the interior mechanical parts such as the engine, transmission and drive train of vehicles as well as their electric computer systems, making them dangerously unreliable and a safety hazard on the road.

There are classic signs that a vehicle has been underwater.

"Even if you get it for the most fantastic price, you're going to find out the price isn't as awesome once you're done trying to fix it", he said.

You might also be able to see signs of water damage. It might be even more visible in the trunk.

Look for signs of rust on metal fixtures, especially seat belts, and look at the rear of the vehicle for the dealer decal.

It's always a good idea to have any used vehicle you're looking at buying checked out by a trusted auto mechanic.

"If you have a flood vehicle that's been submerged and it's been in water for 24 to 48 hours, you're going to see a water line". Look for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late-model vehicles.

"If you tell the person you're looking to purchase the vehicle from that you would like to do that before you buy it, and they have any type of hesitation, that kind of tells you what you need to know right there". But if you do, that vehicle, by law, must carry a "salvage" title. That lets any potential buyer know that the vehicle has been repaired from a defect serious enough to deem it a total loss. "Usually it's illegal to sell a vehicle to a consumer that has been flood-damaged simply because the toxic waste that potentially can get in them".

Flooding from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have destroyed cars in their paths and some of those cars end up being re-sold without a warning. "Be careful. There's a lot of cars gonna be coming this way".

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