(WKBN) — As Hurricane Ian moved through Florida and other southeastern states, it flooded homes and city streets. Thousands of cars left out in the elements were likely damaged.
Consumer Reports warns flood-damaged cars regularly end up back on the roads after a few repairs. With the used car market so hot, many damaged vehicles from Hurricane Ian could end up back in circulation.
They often are transported out of market so they can be sold to customers that may not be looking for signs of recent water damage, Consumer Reports writes.
At first glance, a car might look OK, but how can you check to see if it’s been in a flood? Tony Mastrangelo at KeMas Auto Service in Boardman, Ohio, said water damage will show up in a car’s oil and fluids.
“Transmission becomes creamy, milky with liquid, and that’s the easiest way to check if it’s been submerged,” he said. “Once it’s been submerged, the computers and everything else associated with it is done.”
If you’re buying a used car, you should look and see if there’s rust where it shouldn’t be, like hinges in the doors and hood, or a water line on the headlight covers. If the carpet has been replaced on an older model car, that’s another red flag.
There’s another thing Mastrangelo said can’t be covered up: “The musty smell will not go away cause it will go in the headliner and seats. They can change and do whatever they can, but it will stay in that vehicle.”
Water getting into a closed system like through the tailpipe could cause problems, not only in a hurricane-ravaged community but also just from heavy rain.
“They run through flooded areas, and the biggest thing is if you have to go through it, don’t stop. If you stop, that water gets sucked up into that tailpipe and locks that motor up instantly,” Mastrangelo said.
When buying a used car, always get a second opinion, he said, adding, “Before you buy anything, take it to me or someone else. Have them put it on the rack and get a second set of eyes. It’s always good to do.”