7 On Your Side: Flooded Cars - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


7 On Your Side: Flooded Cars

Thousands of vehicles flooded and damaged by Hurricane Ike could be ending up on used car lots across Texas. Mechanics warn flood damage can be covered-up and the cars re-sold to unsuspecting buyers. In a 7 On Your Side investigation tonight, KLTV 7's Courtney Lane shows you what to check for before driving off.

Under the hood and in electrical wiring, flood damage can go unseen.

"It's very easy to go into a car and put some new carpet and new seats and stuff like that which would cover up flood damage," said Charlie Martin, a mechanic with Bud Jones Garage in Tyler.

Just like after other hurricanes, cars totaled by Ike are making their way back to the market, branded with "salvage titles."

"It's a vehicle that's been completely destroyed and brought up to supposed par. Salvage titles, me personally, I wouldn't buy a car with a salvage title," said Angelo Lopez, another Bud Jones' Garage mechanic.

You can check a car's history and get a detailed report at Carfax.com.

You just need the vehicle identification, or VIN, number.

And mechanics strongly advise buyers to test all the electrical components for possible shortages.

"Electric seats, your headlight switches, dimmer switches," said Angelo.

That also includes wipers and cigarette lighters, and they say - use your sense of smell.

"It's like putting water in a pan and leaving it for 3 or 4 days and you come back to it and its got a musky smell to it," said Angelo. "If you're seeing moisture around the inside of the windows if you turn the defrost on the heater and you're picking stuff up coming out of the vents on the car, if you get that odor and smell coming from it, then something's going on."

But mechanics say one danger that won't show up right away is rust.

"A lot of places you can see it is in the brake system. Brake rotors and just suspension components you'll see them starting to get the rusty look and that's a lot of trouble," said Angelo.

Better to double-check, then drive away with costly repairs in the road ahead.

If you find a used car you're interested in buying, you're also advised to drive it off the lot to a trusted mechanice to check it out thoroughly.

Courtney Lane, Reporting clane@kltv.com

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