Many of those cars and trucks that were flooded in hurricanes Harvey and Irma will be making their way back into the market and put up for sale. The price may be appealing, but experts warn, it’s not worth the risk.
“Most of the vehicles will have problems”, says Dustin Wiegerink, Service Manager at Keller Ford. "You’re going to see them through your B lots and mom and pop lots. They don't have stringent guidelines as your dealers and big auctions have."
Wiegerink says it’s easy to spot a flood car and you can do it yourself. First, open the hood and look at the engine.
“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."
Another tell-tale sign. The fuse box. “If there's been moisture in there, these copper bins will turn green overnight. As soon as those things get corroded it doesn't stop there, it goes right on down the line."
The corrosion from the water and salt can also cause a car to rust from the inside, out.
Another good indication of moisture is in the carpet. "If you pop off one of the panels by the driver’s seat door, the padding underneath will hold water for a long time," Wiegerink says.
When it comes to buying a used car, the seller is supposed to disclose a salvage vehicle.
"It will have a salvage title", says Wiegerink. But, that's not always the case. "It’s easy for a seller to wash and detail the car to erase the obvious signs of damage. If you're unsure, take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic who will know if it's been in a flood."
You should always get a Carfax report on the vehicle. It will tell you the history of the car. Carfax estimates that nearly half of the flooded vehicles in both Harvey and Irma, will find their way back to the market.