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Beware, Flood Damaged Cars Could Hit the Used Car Market

There are several thousand cars that were damaged by floods during recent torrential downpours and storms in the Northeast and Southeast, followed by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana. Reports are many that these cars may end up being re-sold without their damage disclosed to either a private seller or car dealer. Car experts are warning consumers that scammers see the situation as an opportunity to trick unknowing car buyers by selling them flood-damaged cars. This scam will be especially heightened since there is currently a short supply of used cars and their prices are already at an all-time high.

Floodwaters can destroy or severely damage the electronics, lubricants, and mechanical systems in vehicles. A car’s vital electronics, including airbag controllers can eventually become corroded.

Buyers should always check a used car’s vehicle history report. Through CARFAX or the National Insurance Crime Bureau, you can input a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if there is anything in its history that is suspicious. The system, however, is not foolproof. Not all car owners file an insurance claim because the if repairs cost more than the car is worth, the insurance company will deem the vehicle totaled and it will be show in the vehicle’s title. To avoid this, some car owners and even untrustworthy car dealers will clean the car and sell it. Many flood-damaged cars are often sold in other states, far from where they originally were damaged to unsuspecting car buyers.

CARFAX offers a free Flood Check tool at carfax.com/flood with a nationwide map showing where flood cars originated, and list of things consumers can look for in a used vehicle that could be a signs of flood damage.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • A musty odor in the interior, which sellers may try to cover with air-freshener
  • Upholstery or carpet that may be damp, loose, or stained or does not match the rest of the interior. Note that brand-new carpet in an older vehicle may be a red flag.
  • Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals or inside the hood and trunk latches
  • Mud or silt in the glove compartment or under the seats
  • Wires appear brittle under the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads in the interior and exterior lights or instrument panel, or a visible waterline on the lens or reflector

Before purchasing a used car, car buyers should always test drive the car and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic.

When in the market for a used car, stop by Carousel Preowned. Carouse lPreowned serving Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, North Liberty, Marion, and Coralville, IA, is proud to be an automotive leader in our community. We do our best to ensure your complete satisfaction every time you step into our car dealership. This is why we offer the widest selection of used and pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs and provide true ease of purchase in Iowa.

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