Late last week, we taped a story on flood cars (Check back with the lemon law blog for air date and station). A young man surfed the web for a great deal on a beautiful 2007 Silver Ford Mustang. It was loaded with every feature he could ask for….and a few problems he didn’t want. After he purchased his car, he found a significant amount of rust under the seats. Upon further inspection, he noticed the carpeting appeared to be replaced. He called 1-800 LEMON LAW for advice on how to handle the situation. Needless to say, our experts uncovered additional evidence that proves this car was involved in some sort of flood and had been immersed in water. We are currently representing the young man as he fights the dealer to get his money back.
The wet weather down South caused a number of vehicles to be caught in flood waters. These cars were washed, title and all, and promptly put on the auction block where dealers have purchased them at rock bottom prices. Now, they are sitting on lots across the Nation, aiming to attract unsuspecting consumers looking for a great deal on a pre-owned car.
While there is no sure way to detect vehicle flood damage, the National Automobile Dealers Association offers primary advice that may be used to detect significant water damage. At a minimum, a prospective buyer should:
Check the vehicle’s title history on carfax,it may state whether it has sustained flood damage (However, carfax should not be your only tool. In the case of this young man, his carfax came out clean);
Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion;
Check for recently shampooed or replaced carpet;
Look under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks;
Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading;
Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk;
Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where the water would normally not reach unless submerged;
Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays;
Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion; and
Inspect the undercarriage of other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.
If you sense something is not right, even if the carfax comes back clean, have your car checked out by an independent body shop. If you can prove that your car has flood history, and it was not dislcosed by the selling dealer, you could be entitled to significant monetary remedy or perhaps a full refund. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.