A few years ago, I bought a used car that I’m sure was flood damaged, unbeknownst to me at the time.

It looked really good and sporty. It was a red Mitsubishi Eclipse. The car drove great, and was discounted big time, so the price was definitely right at just a couple years old. But, no matter what the weather was, the interior of the windshield always fogged up while I was driving it. I always had to use the windshield defroster. Lots of times, there was moisture inside the exterior light covers, and if anything spilled on the back seat, whatever you used to soak it up, you ended up seeing a rust colored residue.

I didn't see any of this on the sales lot, and in spite of all this, I really liked the car, which was an amazing stroke of luck. A car like that could have presented huge mechanical issues, because they rot from the inside out and could just stop working at any time, as CARFX reports. I just got really lucky.

Credit: Carfax.com
Credit: Carfax.com

Judging from past natural disasters, half of cars flooded out by hurricanes may very well end up on the road again very shortly, maybe even hundreds of miles from where they were initially flooded, according to data. They say we now have more than 15,000 on sale in our area. It seems the risk of getting one is fairly high, so If you’re looking for a vehicle and you're in doubt, you should get a free flood report.

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Credit: Carfax.com

Some basic things to be aware of:

  • Lots of air fresheners may be hiding musty odor
  • Carpet or Upholstery that’s loose or doesn't match up
  • Brittle wires under the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights

There are many more of these things listed, as well as ways to avoid flood damaged cars on the CARFAX website. Most importantly, make use of the free report offered if you’re looking at a used car, especially given the number of cars damaged by this hurricane season and you won't be taking a big risk like I did.

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