Buyer Beware

Warning: Do Not Buy Flood Damaged Car
Posted: Sep 07, 2011 12:28 PM CDT
Updated: Sep 07, 2011 12:28 PM CDT
posted by: Darrean Browning – email
AAA Oklahoma has issued a warning after Hurricane Irene flooded hundreds of cars.

After the recent storms AAA is worried those flooded cars could make their way to Oklahoma and be put up for sale.

“In addition to the obvious damage done to upholstery and carpeting, flood water is a corrosive and abrasive mixture of water and dirt that forces its way into every seam and crevice of an automobile,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Most vulnerable are the engine, transmission, steering and braking systems. Unless completely removed, dirt and other contaminants can cause premature wear of vital components and shorten the life of the vehicle.”

AAA said The car’s electrical system is also susceptible to the damaging effects of flood water and water-sensitive components may need to be replaced. Engine computers and other electronic devices can sometimes be salvaged, but corrosion and oxidation can occur even several weeks after the components have been cleaned.

Many parts of a car are difficult to clean and dry because they are virtually inaccessible. Door locks, window regulators, wiring harnesses, heating and air conditioning components and many small devices are tucked away in small, hidden spaces. These items may fail at a later date because of contamination by dirty water.

“Car buyers in Oklahoma should be aware that flood-damaged vehicles can be shipped anywhere for resale and could be in the marketplace for many months,” said Mai. “Having a vehicle inspected by a qualified technician and checking its title history will help determine if it sustained water damage.”

So how do you know if the vehicle has been flooded? There are signs such as dried mud under the hood. Also if there is a damp, musty odor in the trunk or interior. If it’s an older vehicle and it has new carpet and upholstery that may be another indication of possible flood damage.

AAA recommends before purchasing a vehicle take it to a mechanic and have it checked out to determine possible flooding.