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Beware of Flood Damage When Buying a Used Vehicle

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As the winter weather patterns usher in much-needed rain and snow, a lurking issue emerges for potential car buyers - the risk of purchasing flood-damaged vehicles. Recent extreme weather events, like the 20-25 foot waves and heavy rainstorms in California, have heightened this concern.

The Hidden Dangers in Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Flood-damaged cars, often from floods or severe weather conditions, may not always be properly identified. This misrepresentation can lead to significant problems for unsuspecting buyers. It's crucial to understand that vehicles submerged in floodwaters can harbor numerous hidden issues, many of which can compromise the vehicle's safety and longevity.

Know the Vehicle's History

Before committing to a purchase, it's essential to delve into the vehicle's past. Pay particular attention to the car's condition and its title status. In cases of flood damage, the title should ideally indicate "salvage" or "flood damage." However, there are instances where such histories are fraudulently removed, making it challenging to title or insure the vehicle post-purchase.

Vigilance is Key

When inspecting a used vehicle, be thorough and cautious. Examine the car from bumper to bumper and don't rush into signing anything until you're fully satisfied. Trust your senses too; sometimes, a literal bad smell can be a significant warning sign.

ADOT's Guidelines for Buyers

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) advises potential buyers to:

  1. Inspect Every Nook and Cranny: Look under carpets, floor mats, and in the trunk for signs of dirt, silt, or mold. Don't forget to check under the dashboard and other hard-to-reach areas. A distinct smell of water damage is often a giveaway.
  2. Check Electrical and Mechanical Components: Water can severely damage electrical systems. Be on the lookout for malfunctioning systems, signs of rust in the engine, random new parts, or suspension issues. Consulting a trusted auto mechanic for a detailed inspection is highly recommended.

Don't Ignore the Red Flags

If you encounter any of these warning signs, it's better to walk away. Protecting your investment is paramount, and compromising on vehicle quality could lead to more significant expenses down the line.

Utilize Online Resources

Use the vehicle identification number (VIN) to access a detailed history report through an online service. This report can reveal if the vehicle is marked as "salvage" or "nonrepairable," and provide insights into maintenance history, insurance claims, and previous state titles.

For more information on buying or selling a vehicle, including tips on identifying flood-damaged cars, visit the MVD website. Remember, staying informed and vigilant is your best defense against buying a flood-damaged vehicle.
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Thursday, 23 May 2024

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