The influx of flood and hurricanes in the U.S. this year may, unfortunately, lead to used car dealers attempting to sell more cars damaged by flood waters to unsuspecting customers. You may be wondering what to look for when buying a used car. Take extra precaution when purchasing a car from a used car lot and work to be as educated as possible before buying.

There are many well-known services that keep records of vehicle history and try to report any possibly damaging incidents that a car has encountered. Make sure to request these reports from the dealership, and do some independent research yourself, too.

In addition to these reports, most cars that have been through floods will exhibit some physical signs.

The Insurance Information Institute has created a list of spots to check on the car itself before making a purchase so you know exactly what to look for when buying a used car:

  • Mildew, debris and silt in places where it wouldn’t normally be found, such as under the carpeting in the trunk, or around the engine compartment
  • Rust on screws and other metal parts
  • Waterstains or faded upholstery; discoloration of seatbelts and door panels
  • Dampness in the floor and carpeting; moisture on the inside of the instrument panel
  • A moldy odor or an intense smell of Lysol or deodorizer; this is a tactic frequently used by dealers to cover up an odor problem
  • If you suspect that your local car dealer is committing fraud by knowingly selling flooded cars as regular used cars, contact your insurance company, local law enforcement agency or the NICB at 800-TEL-NICB.

If you have concerns about the vehicle, don’t buy it and consider avoiding the dealership in question altogether. If you have questions about your auto insurance coverage or want to get a quote on coverage for a recently-purchased vehicle, contact a knowledgeable insurance agent today.