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Buying a used car? Experts advise to keep an eye out for flood-damaged cars from hurricane

DAYTON — Floodwaters from Hurricane Ian have damaged thousands of cars in Florida — but not all of them end up in the scrap yard.

Cars damaged by natural disasters like Hurricane Ian can end up miles away from the path of the storm in a used car lot.

Garrett McPherson with Grismer Tire and Auto Service in Dayton shared how to carefully inspect a used car, especially ones that may end up in our area from the storm.

“What we’re going to see when they come up from Florida is you’re going to see a lot of corrosion and a lot of the salt from the where water got into it,” McPherson said.

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Store Manager Rob Stidham said water damage in a car can lead to all kinds of wiring and electrical issues.

Stidham said carefully inspect a car or pay a mechanic to do it.

“You’re going to have a lot of vehicles that are going to come up and you’re going to think ‘Oh, they’re great.’ You’re going to want to check out those frame rails, make sure they’re good,” Stidham said.

He said to also check the car’s CarFax for damage reports.

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Lastly, make sure the car passes a smell test.

Stidham said to watch out for any whiff of mold or mildew, which can be a sign of moisture in the floor boards.

“If you’re getting that, you may want to try to stay away from the car,” he said.

Here are other key sings of flood damage according to CarFax:

  • A musty odor in the interior, which sellers sometimes try to cover with a strong air-freshener
  • Upholstery or carpeting that may be loose, new, stained or doesn’t seem to match the rest of the interior
  • Damp carpets
  • Rust around doors, under the dashboard, on the pedals or inside the hood and trunk latches
  • Mud or silt in the glove compartment or under the seats
  • Brittle wires under the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights, exterior lights or instrument panel