The Better Business Bureau serving metro Atlanta is warning used-car buyers to watch out for unscrupulous businesses and individuals who may try to sell flood-damaged cars without revealing the vehicles’ history.
BBB advises consumers to take the following steps:
– Ask to see the title. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.” If you are still suspicious, purchase a vehicle history report, which should tell you if a car has ever been tagged as “salvage” or “flood damaged” in any state.
– Carefully check the dashboard. Examine all gauges to make sure they are accurate, and there are no signs of water. Look for indications that the dashboard may have been removed.
– Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle when drying.
– Check the trunk, glove compartment and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage. Look for open drainage holes in the bottom of the vehicle.
– Look for discolored, faded or mildewed upholstery and carpeting. Recently shampooed carpets may be cause for concern. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
– Look for standing water, mud or grit in the spare tire wheel well or around the engine compartment under the hood.
– Before buying any used car, you should get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic.