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How to Identify a Flood Damaged Vehicle

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How to Identify a Flood Damaged Vehicle

It is important for those considering the purchase of a used vehicle to be car care aware and check for signs of water intrusion or contamination, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

"Purchasing a used vehicle and later learning it has been flood damaged can be very problematic and lead to costly issues down the road. Worst yet, these vehicles can be unhealthy to occupy because of mold and bacteria growing in the carpet and ventilation system," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council and the Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN), a network of professional automotive service providers, say it all comes down to how much water the vehicle took in and where it can be reached and together recommend taking the following steps to determine if a vehicle has been flood damaged:

  • Take the sniff test. Close all the windows and doors and let the car sit for about five minutes then crack open a door and sniff. Mildew and mold have very distinctive smells and it doesn't take long for that smell to present itself.
  • Try the touch test. Get some paper towels and press them against the low spots in the carpet. The paper towels will draw the moisture out and reveal if the carpet is wet under the surface. Some carpets can be several inches thick to insulate from heat and sound. If the paper towel becomes wet it could mean water has gotten into the car.
  • Investigate the interior. Look under the seats and dash for corrosion and rust and look for exposed metal that is untreated. There are metal springs under the front seats that are usually not painted. If they are rusted that is a sign the interior has been wet. Look for mud and debris in places it does not belong.
  • Inspect the instrument panel. Turn on the key and perform a bulb test. Make sure every bulb lights up. If a system has an issue, removing the warning bulb can hide it. Many times vehicles that have flooded have malfunctions in their anti-brake and air bag systems. Ensuring the light comes on and then goes out after the bulb test is an indicator that the system is on and has no active faults.
  • Take it to a professional. Let a service and repair technician inspect your vehicle. They can raise the car and look underneath to see if there is any mud, sticks or rocks in the suspension. A professional can check the oil in the differentials to make sure they contain no water in them. Spend a few dollars to have it looked over to give you peace of mind.

Source: Car Car Council

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    I've had Tim (ASE Master Technician) and Nate work on my vehicles and they've always done great work at reasonable prices. Before I recently traded my old Pontiac Vibe in to the dealer, I had these guys get everything in tip top condition and Kocourek gave me a really good price. When my son was up here visiting, the heat shield bracket to the muffler had come loose and was making a terrible noise. These guys knew exactly what it was, got it up on the lift and 10 minutes later, finished. $10 bucks. All without an appointment. I've seen big rigs in there, so they know what they're doing. Highly recommended.

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    These guys run a tight ship and are very professional. They obviously have years of experience. Their customer service is fantastic and I would recommend them to anyone who needs there car worked on!

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    This is easily the best auto service within Marathon county, and I've been everywhere. The customer service is on par with a 5 star resort and hotel. Also when shopping around for the lowest price on a job or repair, this place always maintains the best price.

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    This is my go-to auto service center. They're reasonably priced, offer quality service, and most of all, they're honest.

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    West side auto has provided me excellent service time and time again...I couldn't be happier about their quality of work, great customer service, helpful attitude, and competitive pricing. I would recommend this shop above any others.

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