Don’t get soaked at the car lot

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

By Staff
The hurricanes haven't been forgotten, but instead have left displaced persons throughout the United States. Unfortunately the floods have have sent damaged vehicles also throughout the country to unsuspecting buyers.
Not all of these vehicles will be obviously damaged. Carpets have been cleaned and repairs made. Still the buyer should be aware of what to look for when purchasing either a new or used vehicle.
The Better Business Bureau urges caution due to unscrupulous businesses and individuals who may try to sell flood-damaged cars without revealing the vehicles' history.
The BBB recommends the following tips to help consumers determine if a car is flood-damaged:
Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.”
Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
Check out the reliability of the dealer by contacting the Better Business Bureau where the company is located.
If the car's history seems suspicious, ask the dealer or individual directly if the car has been damaged by flood water.
Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save you money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
Following these tips before your purchase may just save you a lot of heartache later.