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Looking for a Used Car? Beware of Flood Damaged Cars

When you see stories of massive flooding, such as the recent flooding in Texas and Colorado, do you wonder what happens to the vehicles that were damaged?

Some of them may end up for sale in your area. Whether flooding has been in the news or not, you should always check a used vehicle for flood damage. Here are some tips to help you check it out.

When buying a used vehicle, we recommend that you get it checked out by an independent mechanic or diagnostic service. Doing this can save you money by determining what repairs it may need. A good mechanic will also be able to tell if it has flood damage.

Use the National Insurance Crime Bureau's VINCheckSM to check if the vehicle was reported as stolen, salvaged or flooded. You should also get a vehicle history report. The report contains the title status in addition to other detailed information. A "flood title indicates that the vehicle was damaged in water that filled the engine compartment. A "salvage title" indicates that the vehicle was declared a total loss due to a serious accident or other problem.

Use your eyes and nose. Look for signs such as stains, mildew, sand under maps, carpet, and, in the spare tire well. Look for inconsistencies in the carpeting and upholstery, such as not matching or too new for the age of the car. Does it have a strong cleaner or musty smell.

The FTC provides more tips in this article.

This article from consumer expert Clark Howard describes how some flood vehicles end up being sold without disclosing that they were damaged by flooding.