What you need to know before buying a car after major flooding events

Posted at 7:01 AM, Sep 11, 2017

Two major hurricanes hit the U.S. The effects will be felt all over the country even by car shoppers. 

There are big warnings now about protecting your money from flooded-out re-sales.

"Just from Harvey, (the total) could reach half-a-million to a million vehicles,” said Sue McConnell from the Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland. 

“If you buy a flood-damaged vehicle, you could be buying a lot of headaches for a long time to come," McConnell said.

Chris Brasso from CARFAX said right now there are already 5,000 flood-damaged cars on the roads in Ohio and “likely some people don't even know they're driving one.”

Before you buy, here's what the experts say you need you check out. 

"If it looks like brand new carpeting has been put into an older vehicle, or if you move the seat and the seat tracks have rust or mud maybe still in them," said McConnell.

If the car smells moldy, stay away. If there are foggy headlights collecting water, beware. If there’s sitting water or mud in the wheel well of your trunk where you keep the spare tire, that’s not a good sign.

CARFAX reported, historically, about half of flooded cars will return to the road. You can use CARFAX to check flood-damage or the National Insurance Crime Bureau's VIN-Check site where you put in the vehicle identification number or VIN.

"It will tell you if that has been a salvaged titled vehicle," said McConnell.

Your best bet is to have the used car checked by a trusted, certified mechanic before you buy. "Have a professional look that car over top to bottom, inside and see if there’s any evidence," McConnell told us.

Also, be especially careful of individual cars in online classifieds like Craigslist because people who didn't have car insurance or comprehensive insurance might try to just clean up the car up and sell it on their own.