Be Sure to Check for Water Damage

February 3, 2012

There is nothing more treacherous to a car’s overall health than water damage.

Water and especially salt water, can degrade vital components of an engine and transmission resulting in thousands of dollars in damage. It can contaminate the fuel and electrical systems causing premature failure. Mold can build up under the carpets and seats and produce a nasty odor.

With all of the problems that water damage can pose on a car you’d think that most would end up in a scrap yard. But many of these cars go back into the used car market waiting to be bought by unsuspecting buyers.

Most people searching for a used car usually do not check for water damage or do not know how. If you suspect the price of a car is a little on the cheap side then it’s very important that you check for this type of damage.

Look at the color and condition of the carpets. If the carpet looks too new for the car then it may have been replaced recently. There’s really no need to change the carpet unless you want to hide something, like water damage.

This next step is a little hard to do but it’s still important. Get close to the carpet and try to smell for any mold. Smell the carpets in the front and in the rear.

Mold is not only stinky but it’s also dangerous to your health. I once owned a car that had black mold on the carpet and no amount of Lysol would take that thing out. It produced a bad stench especially on warm rainy days. The car wasn’t water damaged but the previous owner must have spilled a lot of liquid and not cleaned up properly.

If you do find mold anywhere on the carpet you shouldn’t take any chances and walk away from the car.

Open the glove compartment and make sure it’s clean from any dirt or silt. Don’t expect the glove compartment to be squeaky clean but there is no reason for dried mud to be in there. Check all around the area and make sure you don’t see anything that shouldn’t be there.

Check for rust or dirt under the carpet and around the spare tire. Lift the carpet and inspect for any dried mud or rust.

Don’t be alarmed if the spare tire has a lot of dried mud on it. It may have been used for legitimate purposes such as in a rainstorm.

Still not sure if the car you want to buy has been flooded? Take it to a professional mechanic and get it inspected.

If a car has been flooded it may not be obvious when you first test drive it. The car may look and drive like a new car but it’s over time when the damage starts to happen. Parts get corroded and the body rusted. The extent of the damage all depends on how the car was flooded and what precautions the owner took after the fact (like starting the car up right away, which is a big no-no). But this is impossible to know so you shouldn’t take any chances no matter how cheap the price.

Make sure you don’t rush into buying a car if you suspect it’s been flooded. Take it to a trusted mechanic and get it thoroughly checked out.

Have you ever bought a water damaged car and what problems did you encounter?


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alexia March 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I drive a classic car… Not a super cool old hot rod, but a 4-door 1971 Chev, it’s big uogenh to seat all 6 of us and is much safer than a minivan. Imo, this is the ultimate recycling, I’ve had it for 7 years so far, and don’t anticipate ever needing to upgrade, I really love this car… Parts are cheap and readily available, and unlike any new car, there are no computerized components that need special tools or training to work on. I was told that converting a car like this to burn alcohol is easy, (carb changes), and we could probably get a permit to run a still here… But my plan is to one day redo it as an electric car, the trunk is plenty big to hold uogenh batteries and suitable electric motors are out there… (My only holdup is cash flow, this could cost 10 times w/ I paid for it…) I could go on, but my point is that it’s not so black and white, cars were built better back then, and also that car aficionados can be very innovative when it comes to getting around stuff like no fuel. A combustion engine does not a car make!


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