Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Car
With Hurrican Harvey estimated to destroy up to 500,000 cars, there's a chance one of those flood-damaged cars may end up for sale in your area, even if you live far away from Houston.
While Carfax will help point out vehicles that were flooded (they're releasing flood information for free on all vehicles), their database DOES NOT contain vehicles that were not insured, or repairs that were not filed through insurance. That could be up to 25% of the total flooded cars, or 125,000 cars that will hit the used car market without a proper history report.
Back when Hurrican Sandy hit, I did an interview with Business Insider where I provided 10 tips to help avoid buying a flood damaged car. Here they are, make sure you're aware of this as flood damaged cars hit the market:
- Always have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a mechanic. They should make note of any mud, dirt, or grime around the alternator, wiring harnesses, starter motors, and power steering pumps. (You should always get a vehicle inspected regardless of whether you're worried about flood-damaged vehicles or not.)
- Look for discoloration on the carpeting, seats, seat belts, and door panels. Try to look for areas where standing water may have left behind a slightly different shade of color.
- Look for vehicles that have replaced the upholstery altogether. That's a big warning sign.
- Look for moisture on the inside of the instrument panel.
- Smell for musty or moldy odors, especially from areas that may be hard to reach. Run the air conditioning to see if any odors come out of the vents. Also smell for strong cleaning chemicals or fragrances that are trying to mask the odor.
- Check for fogging inside the head lights or tail lights.
- Check the engine compartment and trunk to see if there is any indication of water lines.
- Check the undercarriage and look for signs of rust or flaking.
- Look for dirt buildup or grit around the seat tracks or under the glove compartment.
- Check to make sure the vehicle identification number on the actual vehicle matches the paperwork.
3 Steps Every Car Buyer Needs to Take to Save Maximum MoneyThe key to getting the best deal is to gather price or lease bids from as many local dealers as possible. Then shop that best price around until no one can beat it. Here are the steps:
Step 1 Get Prices From My Trusted NetworkSelect the vehicle you're interested in to see if there are local dealers in my network who will provide you with their best upfront price. You will get direct access to an internet sales manager who you can further negotiate with online (no need to visit dealership).
Step 2 Get Prices From TrueCar / CarsDirectTrueCar, and CarsDirect are my top 2 online price quote recommendations. These services show you pre-negotiated prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually pretty decent. But remember, you can still negotiate further.
Step 3 Complete my ChecklistFollow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
- Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
- Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
- The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
- Which Cars You Should Avoid