COLUMBUS (WCMH) – In the wake of Hurricane Ida and severe storms throughout the country, car experts said consumers should be on alert for flooded vehicles on the used car market.
Flood-damaged cars appear from coast to coast, even in states where major flooding isn’t common.
“Our data shows that there’s over 378,000 cars that were once damaged in previous storms that are now back on the road,” said Carfax’s Chris Bassos.
Carfax reports indicated more than 7,000 of those water-logged cars are in Ohio.
“Carfax is only as good as the people reporting to it,” said Andrew Corbitt, the shop foreman of sigmaTec Automotive in Hilliard.
Corbitt urges consumers to look beyond the Carfax report.
“So, if a flood wasn’t reported, if the car wasn’t ever known to be in a flood and people don’t know what to look for, they don’t know any otherwise,” he said.
If you’re in the market to buy a used car, water damage can be difficult to detect from the exterior.
“Opening the hood can be one of your best friends when it comes to identifying a flood vehicle,” Corbitt said.
It’s important to know a few key indicators.
“Rust on anything up this high, you know, engine mounts, strut towers, any kind of clamps here,” Corbitt said. “Clamps are coated in a protected layer that should not allow it to rust for a good, long while.”
After examining the body of the vehicle for rust, check the inside.
“So on the insides of the cars, the kinds of things we look for are water lines and odors and stains from flooding,” Corbitt said.
Remember to also lift the carpets.
“Stains all over them that are just out of the ordinary, wasn’t just, you know, a soda spill or anything like that, but just saturation that has not been cleaned out properly,” Corbitt said. “Those can be good tell-tales as well.”
If you purchase a flood car, Corbitt said it can be a big gamble.
“Down the road, if a car’s been in a flood, you’ll start to smell mold, mildew, stuff like that,” he said.
Electrical issues could also affect the car’s safety and performance.
“Sensors will trip and set your check engine lights on, but there’s not really an issue with the sensors at all,” Corbitt said.
Before you buy a used car, research it by using the vehicle’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN).
“It’s always good to get a professional’s eye and help in keying on any kind of concerns that might not be reported though, like bodywork, electrical issues, or flooding,” Corbitt said.
Vehicle title washing can be a common scam in the used car market. More on that this Thursday on Better Call 4.