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Detecte, Evite los Autos Dañados Inundación

  By Patricia Martija

Spot, Avoid Water-Damaged Cars

Warning to bargain hunters on used-car lots: there are many water damaged cars on used car lots from floods and hurricanes.

These water-logged vehicles that sat in corrosive saltwater appear safe on the outside but are rotting on the inside and dangerous to drive. Common problems include damage to critical components like computer and electrical systems, which could lead to antilock braking and airbag system failures.

Scam artists grab cars that have been paid out as total losses on insurance claims and try to resell them. The hucksters know they're more likely to bilk unsuspecting buyers if they move damaged cars far from areas hard-hit by hurricanes or floods. If you're not checking for signs of flooding, you could wind up paying thousands in costly repair bills-or worse if you're in an accident.

Carfax offers these tips to avoid flood-damaged vehicles:

  • Take a deep breath. Smell for musty odors from mildew, particularly on upholstery and in the trunk.
  • Dig around. Open the glove compartment, check the trunk, and look below the seats for signs of water damage-silt, mud, or rust.
  • Check for stains. Discolored or faded materials could indicate water damage. New upholstery or carpeting that doesn't match the interior may indicate it has been replaced. Be suspicious of new carpeting on a 10-year-old car.
  • Look for corrosion clues. Rust on screws, door hinges, hood springs, trunk latches, or brackets under the dashboard indicate those metals had significant contact with water.
  • Turn the ignition key. Make sure the accessory and warning lights come on and work properly. Also confirm that airbag and ABS lights come on.
  • Look at lamps. If the headlights and taillights appear foggy, water may have accumulated inside. The instrument panel and interior/exterior mirrors also may have moisture that never evaporated.
  • Do a background check Ask to see a vehicle history report, which can reveal past problems. Was the vehicle titled or registered in at-risk areas during recent flood and hurricane seasons?

Finally, deal with reputable dealers, and always have used vehicles checked by a trusted mechanic before handing over your money.

Published 10-28-2013

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