Can you spot a car damaged by flooding?

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – As Hurricane Ian swept through Florida and other southeastern states, it flooded city homes and streets. Thousands of cars exposed to the elements were likely damaged.

Consumer Reports warns that cars damaged by flooding regularly end up back on the road after some repairs. Because the used car market is so hot, many damaged vehicles from Hurricane Ian could be put back into circulation.

They are often trucked out of the market so they can be sold to customers who may not be checking for signs of water damage, Consumer Reports writes.

At first glance, a car might look fine, but how can you check if it’s been in a flood? Tony Mastrangelo of KeMas Auto Service in Boardman, Ohio, said water damage would show up in a car’s oil and fluids.

“The gear gets creamy, milky with liquid and that’s the easiest way to check if it was submerged,” he said. “Once it’s submerged, the computers and everything else related to it is ready.”

If you’re buying a used car, you should check for rust where it shouldn’t be, like hinges in the doors and hood, or a waterline on the headlight covers. If the carpet has been replaced on an older model car, that’s another red flag.

Another thing Mastrangelo said cannot be covered up: “The musty smell will not go away because it will go into the headliner and the seats. They can change and do what they can, but it will stay in this vehicle.”

Water entering a closed system like through the exhaust pipe could cause problems, not only in a hurricane-ravaged community, but even just from heavy rain.

“You’re driving through flooded areas and the most important thing is, if you have to go through it, don’t stop. When you stop, that water gets sucked into that exhaust pipe and it immediately blocks that engine,” Mastrangelo said.

Always get a second opinion when buying a used car, he said. “Before you buy anything, bring it to me or someone else. Let them put it on the rack and get a second pair of eyes. It’s always good to do.” Can you spot a car damaged by flooding?

Grace Reader

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