Consumer Alert: Avoiding flood-damaged used cars

Posted: Updated:
EDISON -

Last weekend’s flooding in parts of the tri-state area could pose a new risk to consumers, with more flood-damaged cars coming onto the market.

Mechanics say flooded cars can spell big trouble for owners, with the possibility of damaged electronic components, catalytic converter problems, computer issues and more.

So how do you protect yourself?

Mechanic Kenny Wenzel says having someone inspect a used car before you buy it is the best way to spot flood damage. He starts by looking for signs of flooding in the vehicle’s undercarriage.

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“First thing we do is we put it up in the air, take a look at it,” Wenzel explains. “Sludge, leaves, a pile of dried dirt on top of any ledge.”

Cobwebs, meanwhile, can potentially be a good sign – those would have been washed away if the car was flood-damaged.

Wenzel also looks for water lines in the car and behind decorative trim panels, where water can seep in.

Flood-damaged cars are supposed to be clearly labeled on their titles. Depending on the state, that can be anything from the letter “F” to the words “flood damage.” But titles are not always 100 percent reliable.

You can improve your odds by searching the car’s history with a company like CarFax, Autochek or Vinchek.

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