On Your Side: Flooded used cars
BATON ROUGE - Thousands of cars flooded last month, including cars on lots. Flood damaged cars can find their way back onto the sales market in lots or for sale by owner and it might be difficult to tell from the outside, whether that car has water damage.
Frank Lopinto at Salsbury's Dodge City, a dealership that stayed dry during the flood, says there are some things to look for if you're searching for a used car right now.
"One of the places you want to check will be the trunk area, because normally that's the lowest area to the water," said Lopinto.
Take out the spare and look for moisture or sitting water. Check for signs of corrosion or a musty smell in the interior of the vehicle. Fresh carpet in a used car can be a red flag.
"Places where they've taken the carpet out and the carpet's extremely clean and put back in," said Lopinto.
If the carpet is loose, doesn't line up properly or doesn't match can also be a sign of flood damage. Rust around doors, on pedals or handles can tell a story.
Lopinto also says, make sure the car doesn't have fresh fluid throughout, sometimes the fluids will be flushed and the vehicle put back for a buyer. It's also recommended buyers take a look at the air filter to show signs of water stains.
If a car was flooded, a control box under the seat might be new. Lopinto says most new car dealerships won't fool with flooded cars.
"Little used car lots is where you're going to see the biggest problem," he said.
His number one suggestion is to take the car to an independent mechanic and have them inspect the vehicle, before you buy. Mechanics can give you a more thorough look inside.
After watching so many cars flood in August, including her own, Angelle Davis says it's taken her about three weeks to search for the right car.
"Very cautious," said Davis. "It's just one of those things that you have to check out."
A disclosure form is now required for all used cars sold in Louisiana. The dealer and the buyer both have to sign one to protect people from faulty vehicles.
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