Flood damaged cars could wind up here

Flood damaged cars could wind up here
Look in the nook and crannies of the car to find the real story. (Source: WOIO)
Look in the nook and crannies of the car to find the real story. (Source: WOIO)

STRONGSVILLE, OH (WOIO) - There are a lot of flooded cars in Texas right now. Some of them may eventually end up in used car lots, not just there, but all over the country.

So how do you tell if a used car has been through a flood?

Car experts say most of these vehicles are fully detailed and from the outside they look just fine. Oftentimes the used car dealers don't even realize they are flood damaged.

But if you know where to look, you can spot the signs and make sure you don't buy a lemon.

Flooding down in Texas and anywhere in the U.S. could cause big headaches for car owners here in Northeast Ohio soon.

Flood damaged cars could wind up on a used car lot for unsuspecting buyers.

"They call it title washing. Flooded car gets totaled in one state, it gets resold in another state, it gets reissued another title, nobody has any clue it's ever been flooded," said Andy Fiffick, general manager of RADAIR Complete Car Care.

He says his mechanics come across cars like this a few times a month at his 12 locations across the Cleveland metro area.

"That's only the ones we see. For every one we see there's probably 100 we don't see," Fiffick said.

He knows exactly what to look for, starting with the surface of the car.

"If you find a car that has a masked odor, you can smell a lot of chemicals, deodorizes, fragrances, somebody's hiding something," he said.

Next, he recommends checking the carpeting.

"They'll do a very good job cleaning the top of the carpeting, but when you pull it back and look, you'll find that soot and mud down there," Fiffick said.

Then you should check for any discolored panels and seats.

"If you look up here at the top and it's bright red, and you look down here and it's muted or whitish, somebody used harsh chemicals on the seat and you can tell that," he said.

The nooks and crannies of the car will tell you the whole story.

Check for foggy or residue-filled headlights and tail lights, and stick your hand in the wheel wells and look for any mud.

Otherwise that "great buy" could cost you.

"The radio won't turn on one day, the clock is not right. This window won't go down, this window won't go up," Fiffick said, giving us example of how problems with the car could continue to spiral.

You can get a title check of the car before you buy it, but that won't always catch flood damage.

You can also have a mechanic check it for you. RAD-AIR Complete Car Care says if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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