Posted on 11/29/21

Four Ways To Avoid Buying A Used Car With Water Damage

Four Ways To Avoid Buying A Used Car With Water Damage

A used car can be a great alternative to buying a new car. When buying used cars, buyers should be cautious. Check the CARFAX to see the vehicle's history, mileage, and whether it has been in any accidents.

Buyers don't think about whether water damage has occurred when they are looking at used cars. Due to the shortage of used vehicles, buyers may have to be more careful when looking for used cars. Sellers may not provide this information and flood-damaged vehicles may be added to the market.

Recent Hurricanes

In August and September 2021 Hurricanes Ida (and Nicholas) swept through several regions of the country. Ida was in Louisiana along the East Coast and Nicholas in Texas and on the Gulf Coast. Both hurricanes caused extensive damage to homes, cars, and lives. CARFAX estimates that 212,000 vehicles were damaged. Although you might assume that most of the vehicles will be sold as parts, many will end up in a used car lot where they will be offered for sale. CNBC reports that approximately 378,000 flood-damaged vehicles were on the roads before Hurricane Ida.

Avoid buying a car with water damage as it will cost you money. Worse, you may not be able to tell if your car is water damaged by simply looking at it. These tips will help prevent you from buying a damaged car.

How to identify water damage in cars

1. Refer to the title

Many cars are damaged by hurricanes or strong storms. If cars were insured, insurance companies will handle water-damaged vehicles. They then hire businesses to auction them off to dealers across the country. A title must be included on vehicles that are being resold by a dealer or company. This indicates whether the vehicle was damaged in an accident or natural disaster.

It's important to remember that water damage can be caused by people who don't report it to their insurance. Instead, they fix the car themselves and sell it privately. You are at risk of purchasing a car that has unreported water damage if you participate in a private sale.

2. Check for any gaps in vehicle history reports

It is a good idea to check the car title for "salvage", but it may not be enough. You can go further and look at vehicle histories reports like CARFAX or AutoCheck to see if there have been any accidents. It should be noted if the vehicle was involved in an accident. However, water damage may not always be included. You should check the gaps in your report and dig deeper if they are. Ask questions to find out what happened in the gap. You might also consider rethinking your interest in the vehicle if it was purchased recently from an auction in Louisiana, New York, or any other areas where flooding has occurred.

You should also be cautious about vehicles with multiple registrations in different states when looking at reports. Some states don't require specific information to be recorded. Sellers may find loopholes to conceal the bad parts of the vehicle history.

3. Watch out for water damage signs

Although this tip might seem obvious, water damage signs are often difficult to spot. To hide damage to a vehicle, individuals and companies can make cosmetic repairs. Here are some clues that you might have water damage.

  • For rust, dirt, or mud, check the dashboard, trunk, glove box, and seats.
  • Check that the interior upholstery color is consistent throughout. It could indicate the need for replacements. It can be a sign of water damage if parts become stained or dirty.
  • Check that all electrical components of your car are working properly. Check the radio, windshield wipers, and heating elements.
  • Check your taillights and headlights for water, or condensation
  • Look out for mildew or dampness odors
  • Before you buy, have a mechanic inspect the vehicle.

4. Extra precautions

Even after following the steps, there are still many water-damaged vehicles out there. There is no way to know how long it will last if your vehicle has been damaged by water. You can protect yourself as a buyer by purchasing an extended warranty. Then, take the vehicle to a mechanic for a thorough inspection. These measures are especially important if you live in areas that are more susceptible to flooding, such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama.

It's exciting to buy a car. Make sure to do your research and make sure your vehicle isn't damaged by water before you buy it.