Beware of Flood-Damaged Cars
Along with the destruction of property and the despair of people, hurricanes bring a flood of water-damaged vehicles into the used car market.
By Dennis Pershing, Chief Lending Officer
As newer cars feature more and more electrical components, they become increasingly susceptible to corrosion from salt water. Measures can be taken to correct cosmetic damage caused by floodwaters but there is no easy fix for rust and corrosion—just major repairs. While these vehicles should carry “salvage” or “flood” titles, deceptive wholesalers sometimes alter the titles to conceal flood damage.
What to look for
Our number-one priority at MIDFLORIDA is protecting members’ financial wellbeing. To this end, we’re here to help defend you against purchasing a car that’s sustained flood damage. Despite a seller’s best efforts, a flooded car will show signs if you know what to look for. The questions listed below are a good starting point when determining if a car was in a flood.
- Does the carpet smell like mildew?
- Does the carpet or carpet padding feel damp?
- Is the padding under the front or rear seats damp?
- Is the air filter damp? (It’s difficult to dry an air filter; if the used car has a brand new filter, be sure to carefully look for other signs of flood damage.)
- Does the used vehicle have new carpet? (Carpet is expensive to replace, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to conceal that a vehicle was in a flood.)
- Are the brake shoes or door hinges rusted?
- Does the spare tire well in the trunk contain dirt or water? (This spot often goes overlooked and uncleaned by deceptive sellers!)
- Does the price seem like it’s too good of a deal? If so, do plenty of research!
And don’t forget to…
- Check the CARFAX vehicle history report. (After this year’s very active hurricane season, reviewing a vehicle’s trail of ownership and CARFAX report is more important than ever!)
- Have your mechanic inspect the car before you make an offer. This is important whenever you purchase a used car, not just when a high volume of flooded vehicles are on the market.
We’ve got your back
As a final measure of protection, MIDFLORIDA will not finance a vehicle with a title that shows it has been rebuilt, salvaged, or flooded. We do this not only because the vehicle is unacceptable collateral on a loan, but also because it’s in your best interest.
Article by Dennis Pershing, Chief Lending Officer, who oversees all aspects of credit and lending for MIDFLORIDA and has more than 30 years of experience in the industry.