Water damage is one of the worst things that can happen to your vehicle. Once a car has been in a flood, the odds are good that it will never be “as good as new” again. However, that won’t stop used car dealers from snapping them up for pennies on the dollar and transporting them well away from the flooded areas and reselling them (at a much higher price) to unsuspecting consumers.
How can you spot the signs that a car has been water-logged in the past? Here are some clues:
- The dealer has a large lot of vehicles that have salvaged titles or says that the original titles have been lost. That’s usually an effort to keep consumers from seeing that the car was purchased as salvage-only and rebuilt.
- Check the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Even if the dealer has a clean (looking) title, you have to be wary. Some states have pretty lax regulations, and that makes it possible for unscrupulous dealers to “wash the title” before they resell a damaged vehicle.
- Check Carfax for flood damage. If the original owner never declared the damage to their insurance, the Carfax report won’t show it However, it can show you if there were floods in the areas where the car has been. The free flood damage checker will give you the odds that any given vehicle has been in a flood.
- Finally, do a careful inspection. Look at the carpets for damage and see if you smell mold. Look for waterlines on the car’s lights and reflectors that were never cleaned away. Check under the hood for mud, and look in the bottom edges of door panels where debris can settle and be overlooked during cleaning. As always, be suspicious of any signs of rust.
The sad reality is that many car companies don’t care how they cheat consumers — they just want your dollars. If you’ve been cheated by an auto dealer, get experienced legal assistance today.