When buying a used car, the first thing to do is get it inspected by someone you trust.
Order a CarFax or other report based on the VIN of the vehicle you are looking at.
Check the status of the title. A “flood title” means the car has damage from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment.
When car shopping, watch for:
- New upholstery in a used vehicle or upholstery that doesn’t match the carpeting
- Rust in high places like door hinges and trunk latches
- Rust under the gas and brake pedals
- Silt or mud under the seats or in the glove compartment
- Beads of water in the dome light
- Damp floor carpeting
To prevent yourself from purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle:
- Smell inside the vehicle. A musty or moldy smell indicates trouble.
- Bend wires underneath the dashboard. After drying, wet wires become brittle like twigs.
- Turn on the ignition and make sure all dashboard warning and accessory lights properly illuminate.
- Test the air conditioning, heater, windshield wipers, radio, and turn signals several times.
- Make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the dashboard matches the VIN on the door jamb.
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