Whether you’re looking to buy a used vehicle for your daily commute or to put on display at a car show, you should be wary of its history before making a purchase. Unfortunately, many used cars for sale have experienced severe damage like flooding, which can undermine the vehicle’s performance in the long run and cost a lot of money in repairs. What’s worse is that some sellers go to great lengths to keep this information from you. Some may even sell the car in a new state or retitle the vehicle to hide its history. However, you can avoid purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle by knowing what signs to look for.
How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Car
1. Musty Odor
A waterlogged vehicle will often have a musty, earthy smell in the cabin interiors because of mold and mildew growth. Try to sniff out the trouble by sitting inside with the windows rolled up and the doors closed. Even with strong air fresheners masking the odor, you can still smell it. Car show entries that have been out of commission or placed in storage for some time still should not have this smell.
2. Discolored or Stained Spots
Pay attention to any discoloration or staining on the seat fabrics, mats, and carpets. Minor stains are normal in a used vehicle, but blotchy, brown water spots hint at flooding. Open the trunk and peel back the carpeting to look for moldy areas, water lines, and debris; a flood-submerged car will have mud and dirt settling in its nook and crannies. Mismatched upholstery and carpets may also mean the removal of water-stained ones.
3. Foggy Lights
No matter how much cleaning has been done, evidence of moisture will remain in some places. Foggy headlights, tail lamps, interior lights, and instrument panels are signs that the water inside hasn’t completely evaporated.
Prolonged exposure to water causes corrosion and rust; look for these signs on the vehicle’s body. Corrosion from flooding will continue to damage the vehicle’s metal components, even after it has dried out. Check for any signs of rusting on doors and their hinges, pedals, trunk latches, and undercarriage.
5. Operational Issues
Apart from damaging a vehicle’s mechanical systems, floodwaters can also compromise its electrical components, making them unsafe for driving. Air conditioning, radio, and wipers will work for a while, but issues may crop up soon after the sale is complete. Have a trusted mechanic inspect the engine and components for problems.
Avoid the pitfalls of buying flood-damaged cars by knowing the red flags. To see what well-maintained vintage vehicles look like, visit Charlotte AutoFair, the biggest car show in Mecklenburg County, NC. The three-day biannual fair and car exhibit has drawn antique vehicle enthusiasts, sellers, and buyers from all over the country. To learn more about this car show, call (704) 841-1990 or visit their website.