Attorney General Caldwell urges consumers to keep the following tips in mind:
- Look for water stains, mildew, or sand under the carpet, floor mats, and dashboard, and in the wheel well where the spare tire is stored. Look for fogging inside the headlights and taillights.
- Smell the interior of the car. A heavy aroma of cleaners and disinfectants could be a sign that someone's trying to mask a mold or odor problem.
- Feel and Listen for problems. Have your mechanic inspect the car’s mechanical and electrical components, and systems that contain fluids, for water contamination. Notice if anything feels or sounds unusual.
- Know the difference between a “salvage title” and a “flood title.” A “salvage title” means the car was declared a total loss by an insurance company because of a serious accident or some other problems. A “flood title” means the car has damage from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment. The title status is part of a vehicle history report.
- Obtain a vehicle history report. The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) free database includes flood damage and other information.
If you suspect a dealer is knowingly selling a flood-damaged car or a salvaged vehicle as a good-condition, used car, contact your auto insurance company, local law enforcement agency, or the Attorney General Caldwell’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 FREE.