Used Car Buyers Beware

Commentary: Several years ago my husband and I bought a 1995 Ford Crown Victoria, and after we had it for awhile, we both had suspicions we had bought a car that had been surmerged in water. There was "no" way we could know for sure, but after awhile, we saw a lot of things to cause us to "believe" we had bought one and it didn’t take us long to get rid of it either.

People if you are looking to buy a used car, stop and do your necessary homework first. It is important for you to take the necessary precautions before buying a used car. It is wise to check the car out with a magnifying glass, and I’m not exaggerating this either."

When there have been floods or hurricanes within the United States, cars can and will end up on used car lots and at dealerships in our areas for sale too. The danger of this happening to you can be great. Can you just for a minute imagine the number of cars that was in Hurricane Sandy? This should give people a cause to cringe if they’re looking for a used car. I’ve always thought this was an illegal act but flooded cars do end uop on used car lots.

When you’re looking for a used car, it’s important to check out the door panels (pull them off) and the engine panel too for signs the car has been submerged. It is wise to remember that most cars must set for a while in the sun before some of the things I’m mentioning will show up on the car.  

Remember, there are ways a car slicker can use to make a car look like it’s never been in water, and in fact, like it’s almost new. This is what happened to my husband and I.

Also, I might warn you, a car slicker will reduce the price of the car and make you think you’re getting a great buy because they know what they’re selling to you and they want to get rid of it.

Get in the car and sit and pull up the floor carpet in the front and back seat areas. Carpet that has been submerged in water for any length of time will lose its backing stiff strength and it may smell musty too. It will be worth your while to pull up a small portion in both areas to see if the carpet is soft, limp and smelly. 

Check all of the bolts and screws for rust and run your finger in the grooves of the bolts and screws to see if you get any grit or a fine dusty residue. If you do, this is an indicator it has been in water. 

It is wise to do the same type thing with the front and back upholstery in the car, don’t be afraid of the material smell it and then pull at the seams of the upholstery to see if you get any grit or residue.
It is also important that if the upholstery feels stiff it can be a sign it has been under water too. Most upholstery will feel soft if it has not been in water. Push your hands down into the sides of the upholstery and if it feels damp that’s another clue. 

The dashboard is a great signifier of having water damage too. If you see where the dashboard has wide gaps and a bubble affect in certain areas, there’s a good chance the car has been submerged for a period of time.

Get down and look under the undercarriage and look for any paint flaking and also check all of the electrical wiring to see if there is any corrosion. 

Years back during Hurricane Katrina, there was a National Insurance Crime Bureau’s established and it uses important data provided by some insurance companies and also by the National Motor Vehicles Title Information System too keeps a list compiled of the cars that have been a total loss and/or a damaged one also.

I would suggest any person who is serious about purchasing a used car to check with this Bureau to ensure the used car you may be interested in buying is not on their list.  

Barbara Kasey Smith is the sole writer of this article & it is based on her believing she had purchased a car that had been submerged in water.