HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE A WATER DAMAGED CAR & HOW TO AVOID BUYING ONE
Top tips to avoid buying flooded or water damaged cars:
* First, buy from reputable dealers.
* You can find great vehicles buying from private sellers but beware of “curb stoners” – people who sell numerous cars claiming to be private sellers and therefore avoid basic government oversight and no Lemon Law coverage.
* Avoid auctions – online or otherwise – unless you are experienced with them.
* Check to make sure the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) match on the door sticker and the dashboard tag.
* Carefully inspect the inside of the car looking for watermarks on door panels, radiators, wheel wells and seat cushions.
* Look for rust on unusual places like door hinges, hood springs, under dash brackets, trunk latches.
* Look for water and moisture inside exterior lighting.
* Beware of cars with new or mismatched upholstery.
* If the car has a paper air filter, check it – if it has water stains the car has likely been flooded and has water damage.
* Ask the seller if the vehicle has had water damage – sounds simple, but answers like “not to the best of my knowledge” or “the previous owner didn’t tell me of any flood damage” are red flags. Get the answer in writing with the bill of sale.
* Ask to see the title – if it is not stamped “flood” or “salvage”, get the car’s history to find out if has come from a recently or previously flooded area of the country.
When buying your next car, here are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid water damage.
1. Do your homework.
There used to be a common misconception among car buyers that when purchasing a used car, owners inherit the previous problems of that vehicle. That is no longer the case. With certified used vehicles and services like CARFAX Vehicle History Report, consumers can rest assured they are buying a reliable vehicle. In addition, contact your local dealer of that manufacturer, and ask the service department to run the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if there are any recalls or technical service bulletins that may or may not have been performed. Also ask if there were any major repairs. If you can get receipts for any maintenance or repairs to this vehicle, it will help you decide whether the car was taken care of or just driven hard.
2. Newer is generally better.
Newer models – those less than six years old – generally offer updated safety features and better crash protection. That means the car will sacrifice itself for the driver, and not the other way around. On any model, however, look for anti-lock brakes, dual front air bags and side impact airbags.
3. Know all the facts.
If you are purchasing a vehicle with an insurance check, make sure you know all the details. Call your insurance agent before you purchase a new car to review the exact compensation amount for your destroyed property.