Hurricane Harvey caused billions of dollars in damages to homes, apartments, and businesses across Texas and Louisiana. In addition, thousands of cars, trucks, vans, and commercial service vehicles were flooded or completely submerged by the deep floodwaters. Many impacted drivers are now in the market for replacement vehicles, but some may end up unknowingly buying used vehicles that also flooded and were quickly cleaned up for resale. A flooded vehicle can be dried out and cleaned, but its performance, fuel efficiency, and safety will always be questionable because of how floodwater ruins electronics, the engine, and other key components. Today's Aegis blog post focuses on four warning signs to help buyers avoid purchasing a flood damaged vehicle.
What's That Smell?
One of the most obvious signs that a car or truck was flooded out is that it has a foul odor inside. Regardless of whether the seats and carpeting have been cleaned or replaced, it can be next to impossible to completely remove the stench that lingers after it's been sitting in filthy, contaminated floodwaters. Conversely, if you test-drive a vehicle and it reeks of scented aerosols, air fresheners, bleach, or other disinfectants, it may be because the seller is trying to mask a moldy or foul smell. Be suspicious of any vehicle that has an strong odor, whether it's a pleasant smell or not.
Look For Hidden Moisture or Rust
Despite their best efforts, crooked people who try to repair and resell flooded vehicles as good condition vehicles can only clean and replace so much, since water can penetrate areas that a mechanic or cleaning crew can't see or reach. Another way to spot a flooded vehicle is to look in places where moisture or rust may be lingering, such as inside the glove compartment, underneath the carpeting below the seats, in the trunk well that holds the spare tire, or near hinges or screws around the seats, frame, and doors.
Have A Mechanic Inspect It
Someone buying a replacement vehicle for personal or commercial use may be able to spot some obvious signs of flood damage, but the best way to be sure is to enlist the services of a trusted mechanic. Mechanics generally have the expertise and tools to identify when water has damaged specific parts, such as areas of the engine and transmission, the dashboard, or computer systems. They can inspect for signs of moisture, engine rust, or electronic parts that have been ruined by water. In addition, they may be able to determine if the car has other issues besides potential flood damage based on how it drives and its overall performance on the road.
Request A Vehicle History Report
Finally, vehicle history reports can be a great resource to identify cars and trucks that have been recorded as flood damaged by an insurance agency. While a used car dealer or private seller might try to pass off a used vehicle as free from damages or flooding, a simple vehicle history report can reveal otherwise, since the car's accident, damage, and flood history is tied to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and it will note if the vehicle has a clean title, a salvage title, or a flood title.
Buyers should always use caution and good judgment when purchasing a used vehicle, but extra time should be given for inspection when buying a used vehicle after a major storm or flood has occurred. Just because a seller tells you the pre-owned vehicle you're considering wasn't flooded during Hurricane Harvey doesn't mean it didn't suffer flood damage in some other part of the country.
Whether you're buying for personal or commercial use, a vehicle is an important purchase that's worth researching, and also protecting. Buyers can get the protection they need for their new or used replacement vehicles with quality Personal Auto or Commercial Auto coverage from Aegis Insurance & Financial Services. The Aegis team can provide additional information or a free quote by phone at 713-850-7622, or through our quick online form!