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Thursday, 21 September 2017 17:59

How to Spot a Car with Water Damage after Hurricane Irma

Written by Paul Scicchitano, Miami Patch

With so many cars damaged by Hurricane Irma and other weather-related events, it's likely that some of these vehicles will find their way to a used car lot near you. 


Patch asked AAA for some tips on how to avoid getting hit by the same storm twice. All it takes is a little research and a keen sense of smell.

AAA's Josh Carrasco told Patch that it's difficult to completely hide water damage if a vehicle has been under water. 

"Many parts of a car are difficult to clean and dry because they are hard to access. Door locks, window mechanisms, wiring harnesses, heating and air conditioning components and many other small devices are tucked away in hidden spaces," he said. "Initially, these items may operate properly following a flood, only to fail at a later date due to contamination."

He said the car’s electrical system is particularly vulnerable to water damage.

"Engine computers, sensors and other electrical devices can sometimes be salvaged, but unless they are thoroughly cleaned and dried, problems caused by corrosion and oxidation may occur months after the flood," according to Carrasco.

AAA offers the following tips for spotting a car with water damage:

• Obtain a CARFAX Vehicle History Report---This report can potentially reveal if the vehicle has been involved in a flood, major accident, fire, or uncover odometer fraud.

• Engage your sense of smell to detect any damp or musty odors inside the vehicle.

• Has the carpet or upholstery been replaced or recently shampooed? Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains.

• Inspect the dashboard underside for signs of mud and dirt. This is a particularly hard area to clean.

• Look under the vehicle for corrosion. It is uncommon to find corrosion in newer vehicles and those that are owned or sold in southern states.

• Open all doors, hood, and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping. Pay special attention to small spaces and crevices that are difficult to clean.

• Check all warning lights, window motors, and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, that combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.

We thank Miami Patch for reprint permission. 

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