Rock Talk

Flood Damaged Cars From Sandy Still Plague Used Car Buyers

Last updated on November 7, 2019 at 01:38 pm

Nine months after Superstorm Sandy submerged an estimated 250,000 cars in corrosive saltwater, many of those flooded cars are back on used car lots across the country. CarFax estimates that over 100,000 flood damaged cars from Superstorm Sandy have made it back on the road.

Driving a flood-damaged car can be seriously dangerous and expensive. Floodwater can cause rot and corrosion in safety, mechanical, and electrical systems. Interior materials can become hotbeds for bacteria and mold.

Because flood damage can be easily concealed by unscrupulous car dealers, consumers need to be more meticulous than ever when searching for a used car particularly in New Jersey where a high concentration of Sandy-damaged cars are located. Here are some tips from Plymouth Rock to help avoid waterlogged cars:

  • Run the car’s VIN through CarFax’s free Superstorm Sandy Flood Damage Check or the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck. Do not take any dealer’s word that listed damage is a mistake or glitch.
  • Test all electrical components, including lights (interior and exterior) and window motors.
  • Check for interior moisture. A musty smell is a giveaway, but a freshly shampooed smell can also be indicative of a cover-up. Remove floor mats and pull back carpets to fully inspect for moisture stains or mud.
  • Look all over the vehicle for corrosion. Pay special attention to crevices that may be particularly difficult to clean.

Remember to use careful judgment and avoid becoming emotionally attached to a car before knowing for sure that it has not been flooded. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you don’t feel comfortable ruling out flood damage yourself, you may want to ask a trusted mechanic to do an evaluation before your purchase.

Have you seen any flood damage when shopping for used cars? Do you know people who have had to deal with the nightmare after purchasing flood damaged cars from Superstorm Sandy? Let us hear about it in the comments.

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