As flood waters recede, avoid buying a flood-damaged auto
Tips for car buyers purchasing vehicles after flooding disasters.
While authorities are focused on helping people recover in areas damaged by flooding, be cautious in the coming weeks and months as flood-damaged vehicles may appear for sale in all areas.
Here are tips from the National Crime Insurance Bureau and Better Business Bureau to avoid purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle:
- Check the vehicle identification number in Carfax to access salvage or repair records.
- Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing it.
- Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged area and if the title is stamped 'salvage.'
- Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and look for signs of water.
- Test the equipment including lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, sound system (door speakers will often be damaged), heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work.
- Flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
- Check the interior of the trunk and glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dashboard for signs of mud, rust on screws or water damage.
- Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
- Check for a well-defined line, or 'watermark,' and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
- Look under the hood for signs of oxidation.
- Aluminum and alloys will have a white powder and pitting.
- Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, walk away.
Problems with flood-damaged vehicles are not always easy to spot or may not show up immediately. There can be many hidden problems, such as mold and mildew, computer malfunctions, rusty wiring, and safety items, such as airbags that don’t inflate.
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About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 311 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Web www.amfam.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter www.twitter.com/amfam.