The hurricanes that ravaged parts of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year did more than destroy homes and upend the lives of families. Those storms also created incalculable damage for drivers, leaving their vehicles underwater and causing untold havoc in their lives.
While insurance paid for much of the damage, there is another dark side to all that flood damage. Many of the flood damaged vehicles in question were destroyed, but others were patched up and put on the resale market. If you are in the market for a new set of wheels, you need to recognize the signs of flood damage. This kind of damage is not always apparent, especially if the vehicle has been restored cosmetically, but if you look hard enough, you should be able to spot the warning signs. Here are some things to look for the next time you go car shopping.
A Moldy Smell
It is relatively easy to make a flood damaged vehicle look good, but getting rid of the smell is a lot harder. A car that has spent significant time underwater will start to develop a characteristic odor, similar to the smell of a damp basement.
If you are looking for a new vehicle, take the time to sniff around, literally. Put your nose against the fabric of the seats and take a good whiff. If you detect a moldy odor, you could be looking at a flood damaged vehicle.
Water is a universal solvent, and that excess water can really take a toll on the paint. Look for strange corrosive patterns on the paint that could reveal past paint damage. If the bottom of the vehicle is very corroded by the top looks freshly painted, the seller could have something to hide.
A car that looks freshly painted should always arouse suspicion. Even if the vehicle was not damaged in a flood, it may have been in a recent accident. That past damage, no matter what the cause, could put your safety at risk.
A Salvage Title
Whenever you look at a used car, you should look carefully at the title. If the title says salvage, you should proceed with extreme caution. A salvage title will not always reveal the reason for the designation, but that moniker could mean the vehicle has been in a flood.
Buying a flood damaged vehicle is always a gamble, especially if you do not realize the flood damage has occurred. With so many flood damaged vehicles on the market, you cannot be too careful, so shop smart and know the warning signs.