Buying a used car comes with a number of uncertainties. Even when the vehicle seems to be in good condition, how can you tell whether it sustained major damage in the past, say from bad weather or floods? There are certain pointers you can see to detect water damage in your car, though one of the best ways is thorough car inspection by a qualified professional. This is especially important if you’re buying the car from flood and bad weather-prone area of the country.
Inspect the paperwork
Even before physically inspecting the car, ask the owner/dealer for the vehicle’s title and history report. Reading through the title, you may find terms that could indicate that the vehicle has had unpleasant incidents in the past. These include words like salvage, flooded, submerged, rebuilt, total loss, hail, fire, junk, and repairable wreck among others. These words could indicate serious damage in the car’s past.
Do not expect to be able to detect damage at face value; it’s the seller’s job to make the vehicle look as new as possible so that they can get a good price on it. Even when the title shows no negative report, there could still have been significant unreported damage. Be ready to take your time and look keenly under the surface, literally and otherwise.
One of the most notable signs of water damage is a damp, moldy smell coming from water-damaged parts. In most cases, the boot of the car, because of poor aeration, will tend to be moldier. Look out for an abnormally strong perfume scent which could indicate a cover-up for bad odor.
Simply poke around feeling for dampness in spaces between seat cushions or within the spare wheel compartment. Push down the carpets to ensure they are not soggy. There are other signs of dampness such as dark lines, mold spots where water had stagnated etc. ensure you examine the ceiling fabric as well, there may be mold spots or water marks concealed there.
Damage from Snow
Road crews use a number of chemicals as well as salt to clean snow from the roads. A car that has been parked throughout winter will likely show signs of severe damage. When the snow-packing plow splashes snow onto a stationary car, it can become corroded in time.
Use a strong flashlight to examine the underside of the wheel wells, under the bumpers as well as the exhaust and muffler system for corrosion. Another effect of freezing winter temperatures is deformation of the wheels after buildup of snow around the car. Examine the tires for bulging then take the vehicle for a test drive. Take note of any shakiness or wobbling, and try to go at different speeds to ensure that tires handle all speeds.
Look at your reflection
Reflections on the surface of new cars are usually smooth, just like looking into a mirror. Look at your reflection on the surface of your used car, do you notice any unevenness or burring? This could indicate that the car sustained body damage and was repaired. In the process, scan all parts of the vehicle for signs of rusting, particularly on the underside and around panels.
Carol Dawn is a freelance content writer. She has written many articles on Technology, finance, vehicles, car, insurance, etc.