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Tips to spot vehicles damaged by floods | Department of Licensing
Thousands of vehicles damaged by the recent hurricane-related flooding on the east coast may find their way into the garages of unsuspecting consumers all across the nation in coming months.
- Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
- Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped "salvage."
- Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
- Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
- Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
- Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
- Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
- Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
- If the car's history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.
The Department of Licensing has a wide variety of consumer services available online. Please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.