Tip of the week: How to spot a flood-damaged car

Don’t trust the title; Seek visual clues; Drive it

Don’t trust the title. “A flood of water-damaged cars is spreading across the U.S.” in the wake of October’s East Coast superstorm, and buyers should avoid them. “Unscrupulous sellers might produce counterfeit titles” to hide that the vehicle was salvaged. The true history of many vehicles is available, for a small fee, at VehicleHistory.gov.

Seek visual clues. Since that check isn’t foolproof, inspect any used car by looking for water lines inside the lenses of head lamps and tail lamps, silt in the spare-tire well, or rust in “odd places” like on interior screws. If the engine oil is “milky-colored,” that may be a sign water got in the engine.

Drive it. “Hesitation and rough operation might point to a malfunctioning engine-control system.” Such hiccups now could foretell bigger troubles down the road.

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Source: Consumer Reports

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