Avoid buying cars damaged by Hurricane Sandy flooding - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Avoid buying cars damaged by Hurricane Sandy flooding

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(02/05/13) - When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last fall, thousands of cars were damaged by flood waters. Some of those cars could end up in Mid-Michigan, and, if you're not careful, you could buy a lemon.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says many of the damaged vehicles could slip into the used car market. Chet Hagon operates an auto repair business in Flint and told us there are many clues to look for in a flood-damaged car. He says first, use your nose.

"It's going to leave a smell and it's going to be difficult to get it out," Hagon says. Hagon is a professional auto inspector and owner of Chet's Auto Repair.

And be leery if there's a strong smell of air freshener or perfume. It could be hiding something. Hagon says check the interior for other tell-tale signs.

"Like on a seat, you could see stains, water lines, anything like that is abnormal. If you look in the pockets, very seldom do they ever get cleaned out," Hagon said.

Seat belts could be discolored. Next, inspect the trunk.

"You can even take the spare tire out and look in this area and you'll see it's full of mud or water lines. Usually the spare tire will be rusty," Hagon said.

Another place to look is under the weather stripping in the trunk. You could find mud or sand back there.

Make sure the check engine light isn't on and there's no trouble with interior and exterior lights. That could spell trouble.

"It could very be water intrusion into the body control computer," Hagon said.

Hagon says look for mud and sand in cracks and crevices under the hood. And while you're there, inspect electrical connectors.

"If they have corrosion, it could be from water damage," Hagon said.

And make sure you double check the vehicle's paper title before you buy.

"It's always good to have a vehicle inspection prior to buying a used vehicle," Hagon said.

Spotting these issues could save you thousands of dollars in repair bills.

For more advice from Attorney General Bill Schuette, click here.

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