Buying a used car always has the potential of being tricky unless you are buying from a very trusted source. If you live near water, there is always a possibility that the vehicle you are attempting to purchase could have seen flood damage. There are a few tell-tale signs to look for that can help you easily pick out flood damage, even if the seller has done their best to conceal it from you.
Stains that appear in straight lines did not get there because of a beverage spill. The spill of a beverage would not be as neat as the lines created from a vehicle submerged in water. If the stain is straight, there is a good chance of flood damage.
Gritty Sounding Seatbelts
If you hear grinding or feel seatbelts sticking, there may be sand or mud stuck in them. The car was likely flooded somehow, so it makes it hard to pull the seat belt and fasten it. Make sure to check these before buying a used car.
Does the car have a musty smell? A musty smell is the result of moisture being trapped in the vehicle and the smell can be tricky to remove completely. One trick is to turn the air vents on to see what smells come from within the ventilation system.
Smells "Too" Good
If the interior of the car you are looking at smells too good, there may be a chance that someone is trying to cover something up. An over abundance of perfumes or air freshener smells can simply be a bandage on a stronger smelling problem that will come to light all too soon.
Rust on Seat Rails
Make sure to slide the seats of the car back to check for rust on the rails. Rust on the rail will form when submerged in water for an extended period of time, and should not appear on a newer model car.
Carpet Board Warping
Check the carpet board in the trunk for warping. Warping is a sign of water damage that is hard to explain in any other way.
Color of Oil
The oil can also provide evidence of water damage. Check for changes in the color and the viscosity of the oil. Oil that has been affected by flooding will look and feel different than regular oil.
Priced Below Market Value
Market prices are there for a reason. The old adage that "If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is" is especially true with used cars. A discounted price is a sign that the seller is trying to move the car quickly, so buyer beware!
Vehicle History Report
Even if the seller has done an expert job of concealing damage from water, the vehicle data report should be able to list any accidents or natural disasters that the vehicle was involved in which will make the buyers job a little bit easier.