Money Talks News: Avoid flood-damaged cars

Money Talks News - You may only remember spectacular past floods, like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

However, there's flooding every year, and every year cars go under water.

Sometimes these flood-damaged cars are cleaned up, taken to neighboring states and sold to unsuspecting customers.

The best way to know if a car is hiding flood damage is to take it to a professional and have it thoroughly inspected, something you should do before buying any used car. But since this isn't free, here are some ways to spot the signs before you get that far.

First, use your eyes. Look for sand or silt under the carpet, floor mats and in the wheel well where the spare tire goes.

Next, use your nose. Not only should you try to smell mold or mildew, you should be trying to smell strong disinfectants or cleaners that are used to disguise the smell mold and mildew.

Thirdly, check a database. The National Insurance Crime Bureau's database includes flood damage and limited other information, and it's free.

If you ever catch a dealer fraudulently tries to sell you a flood-damaged car, they're breaking the law. You should report them to the authorities immediately.

While flood headlines should make you particularly wary, there's nearly always flooding somewhere. Be aware and don't get soaked.

For links to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's database, the FTC and more, go to the Money Talks News website and search for "Cars".

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