With the possibility that used car dealers may unknowingly (or willingly) sell flood damaged vehicles, it is prudent for customers to check flood damaged cars before they buy. Mark a check in the box next to the statement if it is true. Any check mark should be a signal to stay away from a respective vehicle or at the very least, investigate further. Download Checklist here.
Use VinCheckSM, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) online fraud tool, to cross reference vehicle identification numbers (VIN) across a database of identified salvage and stolen vehicles. Although a good amount of vehicles will be reported, consumers should continue to download the checklist just in case the vehicle in question slipped through this system.
Sniff around the interior of the vehicle to identify mold, which is a good indicator of previous moisture. Turn on the A/C and Heat to get a good idea of the air quality. If mold is present, then you should be able to smell a musty or earthy scent.
- A musty or earthy smell permeates the vehicle.
- The A/C and heat vents emit a moist and musty air.
Check under mats, under the dashboard, beneath the spare tire compartment and other crevices for debris, unusual rust, discolorations and other signs of water damage. Headlamps and dashboards that are foggy indicate trapped moisture. In addition, check the interior screws and door hinges for signs of rust.
- The glove compartment or the area underneath seats show silt, mud or rust.
- Interior screws and springs look rusted.
- Upholstery and carpeting do not match.
- Interior fabrics are unusually discolored, faded or stained.
- The area underneath the spare tire is moist or unusually worn.
- The instrument panel, headlights, or taillights are foggy.
Test Drive Check:
During the test drive you can test the health of the electrical system simply by simulating everyday use. Test wipers, radio, blinkers, and cigarette lighters to see if they work as expected.
- Unusual or strained noises precede engine ignition
- Interior and Exterior lights do not work.
- Windshield wipers do not function properly.
- Turn signals or hazard lights do not work properly.
- The cigarette lighter does not heat up or charge electronic device.
Even if you are armed with this checklist, you may miss some signs of damage that a more discerning eye might catch. It is a good reason to seek the advice of a trusted mechanic to check for damage to the vehicle before purchasing.
After you finally finish the flood damaged cars checklist, you will have an idea on how to avoid these types of cars. If you need car insurance, don’t forget to use our free online quote service to help you compare multiple quotes from top insurers.