AAA Car Care Director, Jim Spires, said, "Have somebody look at the car before you buy it".
The experts at Popular Mechanics suggest wasting no time cleaning out your flooded auto, since mold, mildew, and even corrosion can set in nearly immediately. "They can, and do, show up all over the country, whether it be a few miles or hundreds of miles from where the flooding occurred".
AAA also suggests that people purchase a vehicle history report of a auto that is suspected of being flooded. The vehicle title will be marked with a "brand" such as Rebuilt or Flood Damage.
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. Most auto fix shops offer them. Cars deriving from recently flood ravaged areas should also be deemed dubious. This check can uncover a vehicle's status as "salvage" or "non-repairable", as well as maintenance problems, collisions, insurance claims and titles issued in other states.
These cars are rusted on the inside of the floor, not the outside, and have a moldy odor from the water and whatever was in the water, like sewage. "There will be dirt build-up in unusual places like underneath the dashboard". Unfortunately, unethical sellers try to scam consumers when these situations happen by trying to sell off flood-damaged vehicles with no disclosure of any previous damage.
It can be risky to buy directly from a vehicle owner because the same state and federal laws covering dealers do not bind them. Historically, the company said about half the vehicles damaged by floods end up back on the market.
You might also be able to see signs of water damage. "Corrosion is uncommon in new vehicles and those that are owned and operated in warmer climate areas", the AAA said in a statement to the press. Consumers should also be aware that obtaining a loan or insurance for these vehicles may be hard. A team of mechanics took a vehicle swamped by Hurricane Sandy and in five hours transformed it into something presentable. Signs may include fogging inside headlamps or taillights and damp or muddy areas where water naturally pools, such as overhangs inside the wheel well. Often times, they'll identify things that you missed on first review.