With the extreme flooding occurring in South Carolina, car buyers around the country should be on high alert. Thousands of vehicles will be disbursed around the country and could possibly appear as a ready to sell used vehicle, when in fact they could be damaged goods.
Flood-damaged vehicles for the most part are worth about 40 percent less than the actual book value, the amount a non-damaged vehicle usually sells for on the used car market.
So, to insure that you’re not left holding the bag, paying too much for a flood-damaged vehicle or to literally steer clear of a flood-damaged vehicle, here are several tips to help navigate the inspection process. In fact, this process is useful for any used car purchase, not just flood-damaged vehicles.
1. Access the government database, The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which helps protect used car buyers from buying a vehicle with a salvaged or scrapped title. The fee for the report starts at $3.50. Making this short-term investment now could cost less on the front end, as opposed to investing a sum of your hard earnings to what could be a sinking ship (or in your case a vehicle) on the back end.
2. Examine the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) report for free to determine if the vehicle has been classified as stolen or salvage.
3. Retrieve a vehicle history report from AutoCheck.com. CarFax.com is another means to access a vehicle report, too, although AutoCheck is more comprehensive. Reports from both companies range from $19.99 to $54.99.
4. Check for water damage. Look underneath the carpet. Check for a water ring around the sunroof. Look for rust underneath the seats and in the glove box. Also check for any odd odors. These could be signs of a food-damaged vehicle.
5. Check under the hood and underneath the vehicle for mud or rust.
6. Take the vehicle to a reputable dealer for an examination, checking the electrical wiring, too. It’s actually worth paying from $100 to $160 to have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a new-vehicle franchised dealer, before sealing the deal.