Beware the Water Damaged Car

Now just to clear up any potential confusion, we don’t do water damaged vehicles, but we would also be remiss in our responsibility if we failed to warn our customers about something that is becoming a serious problem across the country, namely the proliferation of water and flood damaged vehicles showing up on used car lots, and being sold to unsuspecting customers who have no advanced knowledge of the car’s waterlogged history.

photo of cars in flood water

Flooded cars damaged by water

Every year, the cars that are severely damaged by water number in the tens of thousands, more than half of which will turn up on used car lots somewhere.  Worse, they will be sold without benefit of salvage titles or anything to indicate there may be a serious problem

The problems are obvious.  Water causes the body and frame of the car to rust and corrode, as well as damaging the electrical and computer system found on the vehicle.  Anti-lock braking and air bag systems may also fail to function properly, which can be game changers on a life or death level.  Most cars that have such damage are repaired only to the extent necessary to hide any obvious damage, then usually shipped out of state to be put up for sale. 

Buying a car is difficult enough, so how do you make sure that you aren’t suckered into buying a flood drenched lemon?  Carfax offers the following suggestions:

Check out the trunk, glove box, dashboard and below the seats for any sign of water damage such as mud, silt, or premature rust. 

Inspect the upholstery.  If it appears stained, loose, or doesn’t fit properly, then it may have been damaged, or shoddily replaced to cover up damage. 

Turn the key and make sure all appropriate lights come on, especially the airbag andABSindicators.

Locate wires beneath the dashboard and flex them several times.  Wiring that has been exposed to water will often become brittle and crack. 

Most of us love that new car smell.  If the car smells musty, then it is a foregone conclusion that something is amiss, as no new car, or even late model, should smell musty.  This is a dead giveaway that the vehicle has water problems.

And of course Carfax recommends having a (what else?) Carfax pulled on the vehicle, as this provides the best available record of the car’s service, how many owners’ hands it has passed through, and if any major repairs or body work have been performed.

In the last decade, more than a million vehicles were damaged by major hurricanes and tropical storms that pounded the southeast andGulfCoastof theUnited States.  Even if only half of those vehicles make it onto dealer lots, that is still an incredible number of vehicles per state.  Of course there is no legal reason that these cannot be sold … if you are aware of the car’s history and don’t mind, you can probably pick up a late model vehicle for a song.  In the interest of full disclosure regarding the vehicle’s past water damaged cars should be given the appropriate salvage titles.

Again, we don’t work on cars, but we do want you to be aware that damage caused by water is not confined to homes or businesses.  Make sure the next car you purchase is in great, and preferably dry, condition.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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