by Rick Bate
MILES Vehicle Service Contract Claims Specialist
Hurricane Sandy devastated homes and property throughout the northeast and the storm’s flood waters damaged scores of vehicles. Regrettably, many of these vehicles will be purchased and cleaned up by unscrupulous used car dealers to be sold on the market at greatly discounted prices.
The most vulnerable areas in a car or truck are the engine, transmission and drivetrain, fuel, brakes, and power steering systems. Here’s what to look for when seeking to avoid a flood damaged vehicle:
1. Signs of mud or silt, or a waterline on the interior of the trunk or engine compartment.
2. Moisture or water line in signal lamps.
3. Any sign of mold or mildew or a strong disinfectant smell.
4. New or slightly mismatched seats or upholstery.
5. Turn on ignition to ensure that all warning lights and gauges work properly.
6. Look at and flex wiring under dashboard. Wiring becomes brittle once dry and may crack.
7. Check engine bay for rust. Especially in the corners.
8. Remove trunk liner and look in the area where the spare tire is stored to see if you see standing water, wet leaves, or rust.
9. Peel back and check the carpet panel below the driver’s side floorboard. Inspect carpet pad for stains or odors. Carpet can be easily covered or dyed. Stains on padding cannot.
10. If you have the option, have the vehicle put up on a rack and see if there are holes drilled in the floorboard. That will be done to allow water to drain and is rarely patched.
This list does not cover not everything, but it is a good guide to use when scouting to avoid flood-damaged vehicles. Be sure to protect yourself and happy shopping.