Once a post-flood clean-up and rebuilding begins, flood-damaged vehicles most often are sold for scrap or recycling. Occasionally, however, they find their way into the marketplace for sale to unsuspecting buyers. While there is no sure way to know if a vehicle has been damaged by a flood, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) offers the following 10 inspection tips to prospective buyers to spot flood-damaged vehicles:
- Check a vehicle's title history using the National Insurance Crime Bureau's VinCheck, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or a commercially available vehicle history report service, such as Experian or Carfax, etc. Reports may state whether a vehicle has been flood damaged.
- Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
- Check for recently shampooed carpeting.
- Look under the carpeting for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
- Inspect for interior rust and under the carpeting, and inspect upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
- Check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and note any mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
- Check for rust on screws in the console and in other areas water would normally not reach unless the vehicle was submerged.
- Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
- Inspect electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
- Inspect other components for rust or flaking metal not normally found in late model vehicles.
These suggestions will not detect flood damage in every case, but they do offer consumers some protection against buying a vehicle that has been damaged in a flood.
NADA, founded in 1917, represents more than 16,500 new-car and -truck dealerships, with both domestic and international franchises. For more information, visit www.nada.org.