How to spot if you're getting a flood-damaged used car

Hurricane Harvey left an estimated 500,000 cars with flood damage. The Better Business Bureau says many of those cars will likely end up on used car lots in the coming months.

SAN ANTONIO - Experts say shady dealers could be pedaling you a vehicle that was flooded during the recent hurricanes.

Recognizing a car that's been in flood water isn't as obvious as you may think.

Rodrigo Zurita, Auto Technician at ZV Auto Care in San Antonio, said he immediately looks inside a vehicle suspected of being flooded.

"We have to check it out, open the doors and see the floors around it," Zurita said.

Zurita doesn't just look at the carpet, he looks under it.

Zurita said you can often find water damage and rust under the seats.

Other signs of a flooded car include a musty or moldy smell.

"Outside you can see by the front lights. Is there a little line. Shake it and see if there's water dripping into it," Zurita said.

An estimated half a million cars were flooded in the Houston area alone during Hurricane Harvey.

The Better Business Bureau warns scammers will try to clean them up and sell them here without disclosing their history.

"If you're working with a used car dealership and you're looking at a car you're interested in, make sure that dealer gives you an opportunity to take that to a third party mechanic so he can inspect it fully and make sure nothing is wrong with it. If that dealer is hesitating and doesn't want you to take a test drive or a mechanic, walk away," Miguel Segura of Better Business Bureau said.

Before you buy the vehicle, find out if it's under warranty or as is.

"As soon as you sign the contract and make those payments and you take the car off the lot that dealer is no longer responsible for anything that happens," Segura said.

Experts say take a look at the car's Carfax report. It should list a history of the vehicle.

Most importantly, take they vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have them do an evaluation before you make the purchase. 

© 2017 KENS-TV


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