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Typically when purchasing a vehicle for the first time, there is a lot of excitement. While getting the right auto insurance policy should be on top of the list of financial considerations to make when making this purchase, there are many other factors to consider as well; such as if you are getting a used car. What kind of condition is it in? Is it damaged?

While most flood damaged vehicles are condemned to a salvage yard, some are cleaned up and recycled back into the consumer auto market where they are often purchased by unsuspecting buyers who are looking for slightly used vehicles. While these vehicles can be cleaned up enough to attract buyers, their waterlogged past can leave lasting damage to vital vehicle components including the engine and electrical systems, which can shorten the life of a vehicle and cause safety hazards for drivers. The best way to avoid complications from a water damage vehicle is to avoid afflicted vehicles entirely. Here are a few tips on how to identify a vehicle with water damage.

·         Inspect vehicles for dirt, moisture and mold. When shopping for a used car, scrutiny and attention to detail are vital. Although the seller will likely have taken great measures to cover up many of the signs of water damage, buyers can look for beads of trapped moisture within light fixtures, particularly in the interior of the vehicle. You can also check the glove compartment, center consoles, under the seats and trunk for any sign of dampness or gritty dirt.

·         Take note of the smell of the vehicle. While sellers may try to mask the presence of mold and mildew with car fresheners there will likely be some remnants of a sour, musty odor inside the vehicle.  Soaked seats, carpeting and other upholstered components are difficult to dry rapidly enough to prevent mold and mildew growth.  

·         Look for new and mismatched interior. One huge red flag for used car buyers should be mismatched interiors. If some components look too new for the age of the vehicle or if they seem like they would be aftermarket retrofits, you might want to inquire about why the carpet was recently replaced or why the seats were recovered.

·         Check out the vehicle’s history. Vehicle history reports are more available to consumers than ever and can be a huge help when purchasing any used vehicle. While the vehicle history report cannot guarantee a100 percent accurate report of a vehicle’s past, many major defects will be disclosed on a vehicle’s history, such as salvage and theft. Seeing the word “salvaged" on a vehicle history report can be another red flag for buyers indicating that there has been major work done to a vehicle.

·         Have a trusted mechanic examine the vehicle. Before purchasing an used vehicle buyers should ask a technician they trust for a thorough examination. An experienced auto technician will often be able to spot see evidence of water damage to the mechanical components of the vehicle because they know exactly which systems to check for evidence.

 

When in doubt about any used vehicle, experts say it’s best to pass. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is and consumers will often pay the price down the line.

Please contact Fleming & Riles Insurance today to learn more about our auto insurance policies and other products we offer at (229) 436-3408.

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