Buying a car? How to spot a car that has been through a flood with six tips

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After the recent rainfall, many communities across the state experienced widespread flooding.

Those floods likely caused thousands of dollars in damage to homes and vehicles.

In the coming months, experts say some of those flood-damaged vehicles will be flooding the market.

“Damaged vehicles can often end up hundreds of miles away from the flooding event to cities where consumers might not be as suspicious of them,” said Brian Moody, with Autotrader. “It’s important for car shoppers to always be aware that flood damage could be a possibility and be mindful of the signs.”

Experts say you should look for the following:

  • Look out for hidden rust – Look inside the trunk, on exposed screws under the hood, around doors and on exposed metal areas under seats.
  • Give the car a thorough sniff test – The smell of mildew is never a good sign, according to Moody. Areas like underneath carpets and in between gaps in the seats can harbor telltale odors. Also be wary of cars with extra potent or an excessive quantity of air fresheners.
  • Beware of ‘too good to be true’ deals – Moody says if a car is priced well-below what similar makes and models are selling for in your area, that should be a red flag.
  • Watch for suspicious mud and debris – Many sellers will thoroughly detail cars before resale, but consumers can sometimes catch hidden areas of mud and debris where it wouldn’t normally end up, like crevices and corners under the hood, in the trunk and on the underside of panels and brackets.
  • Get a vehicle history report- They may not catch flood damage every time, but history reports are a good indicator if a car has had a watery past.
  • Get the car inspected by a reputable mechanic – Experts recommend getting every used car inspected, which could save you thousands in the long run.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department says there may be as many as 10,000 vehicles in Oklahoma and Texas that were damaged from last month’s flooding.

In addition to following the tips above, they suggest checking the VIN number through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s website to look for the car’s history.

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