With Hurricane Irene having traveled up the eastern seaboard and Tropical Storm Lee drenching the southeast, it is time – unfortunately – to be on the lookout for water-damaged vehicles showing up in your area. The biggest fear is unscrupulous individuals who transport damaged vehicles to areas not affected by storms.
Listed below are 10 inspection tips reprinted from the NADA website that can possibly help spot a flooded vehicle.
1. Check the vehicle’s title history by VIN through commercially available vehicle history reports like Carfax or Experian Auto Check. The report may state whether a vehicle has sustained flood damage.
2. Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
3. Check for recently shampooed carpet.
4. Look under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
5. Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading;
6. Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
7. Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where the water would normally not reach unless submerged.
8. Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
9. Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
10. Inspect the undercarriage of other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.
A word to the wise, especially after Hurricane Katrina – you need to be alert! They can’t predict the weather 100% but you can be absolutely sure someone is going to take advantage of this unfortunate situation.