Given the flooding in the upper Midwest earlier in the year, and the fact that many folks likely chose not to escape recent hurricanes by car, chances are better than ever that you're going to encounter a salvaged flood car on the used vehicle market. Sellers are generally required to disclose flood damage, but unscrupulous retailers have been known to ignore such rules. To help, vehicle mega-retailer Carmax has put together a list of things to look for when checking out a used car that point to possible previous flood damage. Our advice: If it's still wet, walk away. Full list and release below.
CARMAX ADVISES HOW TO AVOID FLOOD-DAMAGED CARS RICHMOND, Va. (September 29, 2008)—In the wake of a destructive hurricane season that brought flooding to many areas of the country, CarMax, Inc., (NYSE: KMX), the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, is advising consumers on how to avoid purchasing flood-damaged vehicles. “Consumers should be aware that some businesses and individuals may try to sell salvaged and flood-damaged cars without revealing the vehicle history,” said Gary Hickman, purchasing manager for CarMax in Houston, Texas. “Flood-damaged cars that are not structurally or mechanically sound could be repaired, re-titled, and sold to unsuspecting buyers.” CarMax’s car-buying team offers ten tips for identifying a vehicle with possible flood damage: 1. Check for a moldy smell inside the car and feel the carpet for dampness 2. Ask questions about an older car with a brand new interior or carpeting 3. Check for rust under the brake or gas pedals 4. Look for dirt or rust under the dashboard and floor mats 5. Inspect the bolts and screws under the seats for evidence of rust 6. Check the undercarriage for excessive rust 7. Check inside the trunk under the carpet in the spare tire well area for rust, dirt or sand 8. Look for corrosion, water marks, or a thin brown line on the exterior of the vehicle 9. Check to see if the electrical system works 10. Check the VIN number with AutoCheck or Carfax to see whether a flood claim has been filed or a salvage title has been issued on the vehicle CarMax provides a free AutoCheck vehicle history report for every used vehicle. CarMax’s team of approximately 900 car buyers nationwide is trained to detect whether a car has frame or flood damage. CarMax will not retail any car that has flood or frame damage or an odometer or title discrepancy.[Carmax]