If you’re in the market for a used car, be aware that hundreds of thousands of flood damaged vehicles were left behind by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. And many of these vehicles may have hit the used car market. These vehicles, often sold at auction, or on Craigslist or via private ad, should be avoided, even if they appear to run fine. Damage from floodwater can be unpredictable and your new-to-you car could prove extremely unreliable.
Don’t be sandbagged—watch for these signs of a flood damaged vehicle:
- Unusually low price compared with similar models. (Check out a vehicle’s fair market value at kbb.com.)
- A damp, mildew-y smell, or conversely, a strong smell of cleaning products—used to cover up a musty smell
- Water damage or marks on carpets, upholstery, seat belts, or ceiling fabric
- Brand new carpets or other fabrics in an older model car
- Visible water lines on the headlights or taillights
- Sand or silt under floor mats or under the spare tire
- Rust on the inside of the car where water would not normally reach
- Mud or debris in hard-to-clean areas
- Electrical components that don’t work, such as windows, blinkers, or the radio
Your best protection with any used car purchase is still to have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. In addition, if you have the vehicle’s VIN, use CARFAX’s free flood check tool, or check its flood history at the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINcheck. Flood history is usually a part of the information you receive in any complete vehicle history report you purchase as well.
Be sure to give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 (or contact us via email) whenever you buy a new or used car. We’ve been serving the insurance needs of Sarasota/Bradenton, Ellenton, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas since 2003. As an independent agency, we specialize in providing quality insurance coverage at competitive prices.