Consumer Reports: How to spot a flood-damaged car

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Consumer Reports: How to spot a flood-damaged car - Nydia Han reports during Action News at 4:30pm on October 23, 2017. (WPVI)

Now that the flood waters from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have receded, look for a wave of water-logged cars to hit your nearest used car lot.

Flood-damaged cars can have a boat-load of problems.

In most states it is illegal to sell flood-damaged vehicles without disclosing the damage, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

"Too often, when an insurance company declares a flood-damaged car a total loss, that information isn't communicated to potential buyers," said Jon Linkov from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found that some flood-damaged vehicles are sold with clean titles, meaning they could easily find their way back into the used-car market.

And Consumer Reports says while a mechanic should conduct a thorough inspection, there are things you can check, too.

"The first thing you want to do is come over to the front of the car. Inhale and see if there's any kind of moldy or musty smell. If you have that you definitely want to walk away from the car. Next, pop up the trim panel on the side of the door here. If the carpet is dirty, or if there's any kind of sediment in here or rust. Also look in the door pockets. If there's any kind of sediment in here or dirt or stones, that's what happened when the water came up and into the car, and as it drained away it settled and hid in there," said Linkov.

"Pop off some of the caps and covers for the seat bolts. If these are scratched up or even look rusted, that means the seat was taken out so it could air dry. Look where a spare tire would be kept. If it's got sound deadening, smell if it's musty or moldy smelling. See if there's any rust on exposed screws, on the panels, or even on the tools like the jack or the jack stand. Look along the back of the engine bay, and there's some soft material here, it's sound deadening. When water rose and stays when the car is flooded, it's going to recede and leave a flood line. If there's anything like that, walk away from the vehicle," he added.

Although helpful, Consumer Reports says vehicle history reports are no guarantee that a car is problem-free, but get that vehicle history report anyway.. Those reports do provide valuable information.

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