Beware of flood-damaged 'lemons'

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - New data from Carfax suggests more than 200,000 cars with flood damage are on the roads in the United States.

Some are victims of Hurricane Sandy, but with recent flooding in Tennessee and Virgina, some of those cars could be coming from closer to home.

Car buyers should be careful of used car scams, but spotting trouble can be challenging according to auto expert Dustin Walters. "It can be difficult. You've got to look for several things," said Walters.

A quick glance around a car can save a buyer lots of time and money.

According to Walters, the general manager of Friendship Hyundai in Johnson City, the easiest place to start is inside the car. "[Check] underneath the dash. You can put your hand under there and check for a sandy or moist feeling. Check behind the seats. Lift up the carpet a little bit. That's a hard spot for people who are trying to clean up," said Walters. "Most important is the musty smell in the trunk of the car. You can't get that out. That's always going to be there."

It is also a good idea to check the exterior of a car for telltale signs of a swim. A car that has been in the water will have corrosion water or mud around the door jamb or under the rubber seal.
Rust, mud or other debris under the car can be a sure sign of submersion.

Walters says if you have any questions about a car, ask to have an independent mechanic give it a once-over.

He also advises to insist on a Carfax report. The report will detail the history of the vehicle and should show any trouble spots, as well as the car's history.

If you suspect a car has been flooded, you can check free of charge by clicking here.

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