Warnings for Flood Damaged Vehicles

As Storm Sandy makes its way across the Midwest states, I’m in awe of the devastation left in its wake. This storm has left many East coast states buried in several feet of water. It’s crazy how much water came from that storm alone.  The pictures show buildings with severe flooding and too many vehicles almost completely covered in water.

People with water damaged vehicles will begin trying to sell their vehicles. If you’re going to be buying a new car or potentially buying a new vehicle, please be sure to check vehicle for water damage. It’s more than just spotting a waterline. According to an article for MSN Autos, Jim Jacobson, a 30-year veteran of the car sales business and owner of Jacobson Auto Sales, “…Instead of declaring the car totaled by flooding, the insurance companies just paid to have it cleaned out, or the owner never made a claim. But if there’s been floodwater inside the car, it’s almost certain that there will be problems down the road, from corrosion on electrical connections and ABS and airbag sensors to failed transmissions. Or it will just smell bad.”

If a vehicle has been totaled for flood damage, there is a marked title given to that vehicle. Most insurance companies will be very hesitant, if not totally against, writing an Auto Insurance Policy for a marked titled vehicle. At RCI Insurance, most of our companies will not want to write an Oklahoma Auto Policy for vehicles that have either a salvaged title or a flood damaged vehicle. However, people have found that if they move their vehicle from state to state and retitle their car in several different states, the marked title gets removed and a new title is given to the vehicle (also depends on the state’s laws about titling a vehicle and marked titles).

Since you can’t always trust the title of the vehicle to be truthful, here are a few ways to check and see if a vehicle has had water damage. If it has, walk away and don’t purchase it. Many experts say there will almost ways be problems later on with a vehicle that has had water damage. Even if you’re buying from a Car Dealership or a private owner, check these areas in the car.

  1. Buy a title history. The Justice Department database has made these reports a little easier to read. You still want to look them over carefully, especially if the vehicle has been titled in other states.
  2. When you sit inside the car, smell it. Does it smell moldy or rusty or musty? Sniff the upholstery. The only way a moldy smelly can be taken completely out of upholstery is if the cleaners use bleach. Since bleach can’t be used on the upholstery without damaging it, chances are if there’s been water damage, you’ll smell it.
  3. Most auto carpet has plastic backing. Check it out. If it’s damp, smells wet, or muddy, or even has an odd odor chances are it’s had water damage.
  4. Check the bolts of the seats, if they’re rusty or loosened that could be a sign of flood damage. The seats have to be removed for the carpet to be cleaned.
  5. Look for a scum line or silt in out-of-the-way locations. Be sure to check the glove box and under the dashboard. These areas can be easily overlooked when the car is being detailed. And be sure to check the trunk as well. Look for waterlines, moisture, check under the spare tire, and the floor mat. You want to find any signs of flooding.
  6. Check out the turn signals and headlights. These are expensive to replace and many times aren’t when there’s been flooding. See if there is any mud, silt, or water in the lights.
  7. Look for rust or corrosion. If you can’t or don’t know how, have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic. You want to know if there is any rust on the chassis and suspension.

These are just a few suggestions when car shopping after flooding has taken place recently. Remember that some dealerships are obligated by law to inform potential buyers of a flooded or salvaged vehicle. You can’t guarantee that they will tell you everything about the car. So be prepared and find out everything you can about a vehicle before you buy it.

 

If you’d like to read more information about this, visit the website, MSN Autos, here.

 

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