Spot flooded cars on the market before purchasing

Spot flooded cars on the market before purchasing

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Hundreds of thousands of vehicles flooded during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will soon return to the road, riddled with mechanical and electrical issues.

Chris Basso with Carfax says the vehicles are likely rotting from the inside out.

"It's going to corrode the mechanical systems," said Basso. "It's going to short-out the electrical systems, and it may even compromise the safety systems, like your anti-lock brakes and your airbags."

Basso says there's three areas to check when determining whether a car has water damage: the trunk, engine and the interior of the car.

"The biggest signs of flood damage are going to be on the interior of the car, especially on the metal parts of the car," said Basso.

Start with the seatbelts.

"See if there's any rust on the seat belt," Basso said. "Unfurl the seatbelt and see if any mold and bacteria is building up on the belt itself."

Look for waterlines and corrosion on anything metal, especially the battery. Don't forget to lift the carpeting and run your hand along the plastic.

"You may find mud or silt that shouldn't be on the inside of the car," said Basso.

Don't forget to check under trunk, where the mats and spare tire are stored.

"If you've got condensation; if you've got mud or silt that have built up around here, even a water line that may exist," he said. "These are areas that can be overlooked when someone is trying to quickly clean up a flood car."

Most importantly, get the Vehicle Identification number (VIN) and look up the car's history.  This is key, as car's titles are often washed when sold across state lines, making it difficult to track the vehicle's history.

Plug that VIN into a site like Carfax to get the full story.  In fact, Carfax has a special tab set up specifically for flood inquiries:

"Make sure you're doing the proper research ahead of time, so that you know the car you're thinking about buying is a waterlogged wreck," said Basso.

WWBT contributed to this report.

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