Consumer advocates nationwide all agree that we can expect a stream of flood-damaged cars to enter the general vehicle market in the upcoming months after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida, and here in Texas. Beware the coming flood of flood-damaged cars…
Between half a million and a million cars are reported to have been so affected by Hurricane Harvey alone. And flood damage in cars can often take time to rise to the surface. For instance, corrosion is a slow process, but once begun in a vehicle’s electrical system it is often never found until it starts exhibiting irritating and difficult to diagnose problems, and racking up the repair bills.
Water can be generally harmful to nearly every working component on a car, and this holds especially true for engine internals, but is absolutely disastrous to a vehicle’s electrical and computer systems. So if you plan to buy a used car, not just here in Texas but anywhere in the country, there are measures you can take to avoid unwittingly buying one of these flood cars.
Cars have a record called a vehicle history report, and most states (Texas included) require that the report include a flood or salvage title disclosure for flood-damaged cars.
You can check the history report of any car you’re interested in buying by running the VIN, or vehicle identification number, through a number of sources like CarFax, National Motor Vehicle Title Information Center, and TXDoT. This is the first and easiest way to determine if a car has been flood damaged, but it is by no means comprehensive. Unfortunately, not all vehicle sellers (private or dealer) are as ethical or forthright as they should be, and many employ a variety of methods (such as “title washing”) to circumvent this reporting or otherwise obfuscate the flood history of a car.
For the most certainty and peace of mind possible, you should still have the car inspected by a qualified automotive repair shop.
It is generally good practice to have a “pre-purchase inspection” performed on any car you are considering purchasing, but after the recent hurricane events and flooding on this scale a PPI is a necessity to ensure you don’t unknowingly buy a flood-damaged car. A dispassionate, third-party auto repair technician will know precisely what to look for and can give you their professional assessment, as well as catch any other potential repair or maintenance items you should know about. Always insist on a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified auto repair shop of your choosing. Be wary of any seller that is hesitant or tries to insist you use their mechanic. And any seller who flat out refuses? Run as fast as you can, no matter how good of a deal they appear to be offering you.
For those looking to purchase a European car (such as a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Audi, or Jaguar) in the greater DFW area, we here at Autoscope are able to offer our services for a pre-purchase inspection. As trained high-end European vehicle experts and specialists, we are uniquely qualified to inspect and service any European vehicle you may be considering for purchase. Give us a call today at one of our three metroplex locations, or book an appointment online.