Flooded cars likely to make way into buyer's market

Jeff Ehling Image
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Flooded cars likely to make way into buyer's market
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There's a few things you need to do to make sure your newly purchased vehicle wasn't seriously damaged during the flooding

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Used car buyers beware, flooded cars from Houston could be up for sale very soon.

The problem with flooded cars that hit the market is that you won't be able to tell if they are damaged unless you take a closer look or have a mechanic check it out before you buy.

There are thousands of cars in Houston, many are like a 2013 Honda Civic at the front of the lot. It looks good from the outside, but it's a different story on the inside where water is pooled on the floor.

"The biggest concern is where it gets into the electrical system," said Dave Huber with Apple Towing.

Huber says about 3,000 flood damaged cars made their way to his lot.

Some will be back on the road and up for sale. His advice to would be used car buyers for the next few months:

"Definitely if you are going to buy something in the near future have a mechanic check it out. Looks are deceiving," said Huber.

Chris Basso with Carfax says his company found water in the back seat of a car salvaged after Hurricane Sandy.

"With the Sandy car, we cleaned up. There was standing water inside the seats so when we pushed down you saw water bubble up," said Basso.

He also recommends a thorough check of the metal tracks and hardware under a car's front seats.

"Look especially on the inside on the car, look for rust that should not be there like on the seat rails, under the dash board, any of the nuts and bolts that are in that car should not be rusted out especially with newer vehicles," said Basso.

Basso says Carfax reports will also point out flood damage history, but adds it's a good idea to have a mechanic take a look too.

"Flood cars literally rot from the inside out so you have a volatile mixture of water, electricity and metal and those things deteriorate over time and this is not clean water we are taking about either," said Basso.

And do not rely on the smell test, sure flooded cars smell bad right now, but after they get cleaned up you probably will not be able to tell on your own.