Be wary of used cars after a flood

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
A barrage of flood-damaged cars is expected to hit the secondary market. Make sure to inspect any vehicle you purchase for flood damage.

Greetings from The Hemet Car Guy,

Car dealerships in southeast Texas have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains. Mitchell Dale, co-owner of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas, just south of Houston, told Automotive News that he experienced a total loss of inventory from flooding. Photos of his dealership in Harvey’s aftermath show cars on the lot completely submerged.
National Automobile Dealers Association spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the damage is still being assessed, but estimates somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 dealership employees in the Houston area may have been affected. “It’s unclear yet how many of them have been impacted. Some dealerships are completely underwater.”
Automakers are expected to have lost between 10,000 and 25,000 sales between August 25-31 due to Harvey’s wrath, according to a report from IHS Markit. This sales disruption may also extend into September, but sales are expected to begin to rebound in 60 to 90 days, when insurance money begins flowing. Insurance companies are expecting to receive as many as 500,000 claims for flood-damaged cars.
As of Aug. 31, insurance agencies had already received about 100,000 claims from those affected by Hurricane Harvey, reported The New York Times. Drivers who have comprehensive auto policies should be covered by flood damage. If a car is declared a total loss, payouts will include a car’s replacement value minus depreciation costs.
Unfortunately, experts predict that many of these flooded cars will make their way back on the market. According to CarFax, 271,000 flooded cars remained in operation last year, and this number is expected to increase thanks to Harvey.
To avoid buying a flooded car, buyers should check the car’s VIN through CarFax, Experian’s Auto-Check, or the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck to get a thorough history on the model, as Forbes points out.
After a natural disaster like Harvey hits, it’s important to ensure that any vehicle you consider purchasing has had a solid inspection, because cars can be auctioned and transported anywhere in the country. So a flood-damaged car from Hurricane Harvey in Texas may end up in Southern California.
According to a report from Consumer Affairs, the following inspection tips may help you detect significant water damage on a vehicle:

• Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit (a telltale sign of submersion).
• Check for recently shampooed carpet, and inspect underneath the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
• Look for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting, and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
• Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
• Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where water would normally not reach unless submerged.
• Check for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
• Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system, looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
• Inspect the undercarriage or other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.

While these inspection suggestions will not detect water damage in every case, they do provide some information to protect consumers from purchasing a vehicle damaged by water, such as flood. If you are considering purchasing a vehicle that you suspect may have been damaged by water, consider having it inspected by a licensed mechanic.

Hope this helps, and Good Driving

The Hemet Car Guy

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