You’ve seen countless images of flooded cars in the last few weeks and if there is one thing we learned after Hurricane Katrina, cars that should be salvaged can be gussied up and sold, and you may not know until it’s too late.
On the North Pine Auto Sales used car lot in Spartanburg, you can’t buy most of the cars anymore. 18 were damaged in the recent flooding.
Owner Steve Wade says they will be salvaged, but he warns “Some of the ones that water just got in the floorboard they could be taken out and cleaned, and you wouldn’t know it. You know, always look at the title.”
That’s rule number one.
Then you’ve got to do a little investigating.
Mechanic Harry Brady says one telltale sign of damage is when the car has been repainted.
“See that fuzzy looking paint right here, that shows when he sprayed this, the spray seeped through this door right here,” he said in the video above.
Also, be sure to pull up the floor mat and carpet.
“If there’s any rust at all, little spots of rust down underneath there, it’s got some type of water damage,” said Brady.
Under the hood, the engine may look clean, but more than a handful of rusty bolts could signal a bigger problem.
Nomatter how much someone tries to cover up water damage, there are some areas of the car that are really hard to dry. Check out all the lights. You might not see water droplets, but you could see some fogginess. Also check the interior for same type of moister inside the instrument panel.
You may even detect a musty smell long after a car has been dried out. Beware of sellers who use air fresheners.
We asked how it is that some of the flooded cars could even end up on the market.
“If a dealer buys it and he sells it to the public or consumer he’s supposed to disclose that. Now I’m not saying they all do,” said Wade.
Which is why an inspection by an independent mechanic is a must. Once you drive a used car off the lot, trying to get your money back is a process that could very well drive you crazy.