An estimated half of the cars that flooded during Harvey will be sold with no flood label

How to spot a water logged wreck

TAMPA, Fla. - Can you spot a flood car? Cosmetic fixes often fool unsuspecting buyers.

Carfax recently demonstrated how a flooded ride could be made to look like new in a matter of hours.

These cars rot from the inside out as flood damage affects the mechanical, electrical and safety systems of the car. Half of the cars damaged get cleaned up and moved around the county with no notation of flood damage.

Dealers must disclose in writing if a vehicle has been branded.

A brand is a descriptive label assigned to a vehicle that appears on that vehicle’s title. This identifies the vehicle’s current or prior condition, such as junk, salvage or flood. Section 319.14(1)(b), Florida Statutes, requires that the Florida of Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates in a conspicuous place on the title that the vehicle is flood damaged and also defines flood vehicle.

Consumers can check titles using the department’s motor vehicle information check to see if there are any brands on a title.

In addition, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, an electronic system that provides consumers with valuable information about a vehicle’s condition and history.

Carfax provides a free flood check report. But if the car is not branded as flooded, you may be on your own.

According to Carfax, telltale signs of a flood vehicle include:

  • Upholstery does not match carpet
  • Rust on door hinges
  • Seat belts or inside bolts damaged
  • Musty odor
  • Water lines in engine or trunk

Never buy a used car without having an expert check it out.

Mechanics often perform this service for little to no charge. An inspection could mean the difference between winding up with hunk of junk and a dependable used car.

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