State officials warning that flood damaged vehicles could end up being sold up North

Used car buyers beware, some tell tale signs of flooding

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - State officials are reminding New Yorkers that flood damaged cars from Texas and Florida could end up being sold in used car lots up North.

For Steve Bird, the Shop Manager at Liberty Collision searching for flood damage is all about being thorough. Whether pulling back carpets or pulling back-seats, tell tale signs are often hidden. 

"If the flood cars show up in our market, they'd do so in six to eight months, when Harvey is finished and Texas is back to normal," said Steve.

For any flooded vehicle the first thing to look for is a water line. It's the most tell tale sign that a car's been underwater.

"[It's] like a ring in a toilet bowl," says Steve, "a lot of un-reputable dealers will do everything to hide flood damage, disguise it, cleaning things up."

Flood damage can affect every area of a vehicle, from the headlights to tail lights, even the trunk.

Steve says one of the best places to check for flood damage is behind the trunk liner. 

"You may see [a] stain line and it would be consistent all the way around," adds Steve.

Salt water or fresh water, a musty smell could be another warning that a car has been flooded, so if you're looking at a used car, turning on the air conditioning or heat vents.

But when it comes down to buying a car, Steve still says the expert eye of a mechanic can't be beaten. 

"You know buyer beware. Get a second or third opinion always, always, especially if you feel anything is out of line with [a] deal," says Steve. 

While the Gulf Coast wouldn't be his first choice when buying a used car. Steve is hoping no one has to learn this lesson first hand. 

For more tips to avoid getting scammed you can download a brochure from the DMV or even check a car's VIN number here to see if it has a history of damage.

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