Anytime a serious storm involves flooding, there is a chance water-damaged used cars can end up on a car dealership’s lot. Even if the storm wasn’t in your area there’s a possibility you could buy a damaged car. Cars that have been submerged in flood waters can have electrical and mechanical problems, not to mention problems with rust and corrosion, which could take years to manifest.
If you are considering buying a previously owned car, take it to a qualified mechanic before you purchase it. The mechanic should be able to identify the signs of water damage. However, there are a few things you can look for while you are on the lot.
• Check under the vehicle’s carpets or floor covering for mud or rust (don’t forget the trunk).
• Check to see if the undersides of the carpets smell like mildew.
• Check the hard-to-clean-spaces (e.g., under the hood, in the truck, underside of panels and
brackets) for mud and debris.
• Check for rust on the heads of any exposed screws under the hood, around the doors or trunk.
Various states have set up databases to allow consumers to check a car’s Vehicle Identification Number to see if it has been reported as flood damaged. There are other resources to investigate a car’s history, as well, including: Carfax (www.carfax.com); Auto Check (www.autocheck.com); and Consumer Guide (http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/). If you are considering buying a previously owned car, take it to a qualified mechanic before you purchase it.
There isn’t an insurance policy you can buy to protect yourself before you purchase a water damaged car. In fact, if your car is involved in an accident after you purchase it and it’s discovered the car perviously had damage, your insurance claim will only pay the actual cash value of the car, which could be considerably less than you paid for it.
If you have any questions about what your auto insurance policy will or will not cover, give our agency a call—before you buy a car. We’re here to help you in all your insurance-buying needs.