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Flood-damaged vehicles may soon flood market

AAA OKLAHOMA Modified: November 5, 2012 at 11:24 am •  Published: November 5, 2012

Thousands of vehicles were damaged last week by Hurricane Sandy but not all were total losses. AAA warns potential car buyers that flood-damaged vehicles may soon be making their way to Oklahoma for re-sale.

“You never want water inside a vehicle but that’s only part of the problem,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Abrasive dirt and contaminants can also cause major damage, working its way into every seam and crevice of a vehicle.”

Most vulnerable are the engine, transmission and drive train, along with the fuel, brake and power steering systems. Engine computers, sensors and other electronics are also susceptible to corrosion.

Used-car shoppers need to know how to spot a vehicle that may have suffered flood damage.

· Arrange a pre-purchase inspection at a qualified shop. Inspectors will look for tell-tale signs of flood damage like dried mud under the hood or inside the trunk.

· A damp or musty odor in the vehicle is often a sign of trouble.

· New carpeting and upholstery in older vehicles may also be hiding serious problems.

· Check for water stains on the entire length of seat belts.

· Look for signs of mud or grit under the spare tire, behind wiring harnesses and under the dashboard.

· A vehicle history report can also be helpful. While they may not catch every potential problem, they usually indicate when a car has been flooded or has a salvage title, which is a sign of a troubled past.