After searching around the internet for a used car, you may have found one from a private seller in which you are interested. However, you may suspect that the car could have sustained water damage, especially if it is located in an area that suffered a recent flood. If so, make sure you inspect the following areas to check for flood damage before buying the vehicle.
Check the Headlights
When you first approach the used vehicle, check the headlights first to see if they appear foggy. If so, look at them more closely to see where the fogginess is coming from.
Sometimes, headlights become scratched up from brushing against branches or impacting with bugs. If the surfaces of the headlights are scratched, the fog is most likely not caused by previous flooding.
If the headlights are not scratched, shine a flashlight through the covering. If you see condensation on the inside of the covering or find mud caked around the headlights, this is a good indicator that the car was under water at one point in time.
However, if the coverings are cracked, this moisture and mud could have seeped through the openings. In this case, you should look deeper into the car to see if you find other signs of water damage. Continue on to the next section to continue your inspection of the car.
Inspect the Engine
After checking the headlights, you are in the right position to open up the hood and inspect the engine. Once you have opened the hood, also look at its springs and bolts to see if there are any signs of excess rust on them. If the car is not that old, the springs should not be that rusty and may have been exposed to excessive water.
While looking at the engine, look for further evidence of rust around the bolts. Also, check to see if there are any leaves or mud caked up inside the motor. Unless the person used the vehicle to go mudding, this is a pretty decent sign that water has reached the engine. This is especially true if the mud is reddish brown, as this is usually the color of river mud.
Look Under the Seats
Once you have completed your inspection of the engine, it is time to look inside at the car's interior. Before you take one of the seats, look underneath them. If the car was flooded, there is a good chance that the springs and bolts holding them in place were rusted.
If you see rusted springs, look inside the coils to see if you can find any grass or leaves caught inside of them. Also, while checking the bolts, inspect the areas directly around them.
If there is a circle scratched into the metal, the bolts may have been removed so that the seats could be taken out to dry. If you see either of these signs, dirty water at one point was inside the car's interior and had to be dried out.
While you are insepcting the area beneath the seats, also inhale deeply to see if you detect a musty odor coming from the carpet or the cushions. Even if the car was aired out after a flood, the fabrics may not have dried completely, causing mold and mildew to grow either in the seats or under the carpet.
Once you have completed your inspection and found evidence of flood damage, you may decide that you will look elsewhere for a vehicle. If so, contact a pre-owned car dealership who can provide full vehicle reports for their inventory to see if they have anything that interests you.