When Tropical Storm Darby flooded parts of Oahu Sunday night, KHON2 spotted several vehicles stuck and submerged in water-logged roadways.
While you might think these cars are headed to the junk yard, some could get fixed and end up for sale.
It’s your money and if you’re in the market for a used car, there are certain things to watch for.
Chances are the vehicles will get salvage titles. They’re often sold to junk yards for parts.
Although sometimes, the vehicles get cleaned up and resold.
“I think the risk on a salvage vehicle is probably going to be, especially in Hawaii, rust and corrosion from water damage, and possibly with the newer cars, so much of it is based on electrical systems,” said Daria Loy-Goto, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ complaints and enforcement officer.
So what can you do to avoid buying a flooded car unknowingly?
Ask to see the vehicle’s title and see if it’s marked “salvage.”
Make sure the VIN on the title matches up with the VIN on the car.
Also, “consumers should consider doing a touch and feel inside the interior of the car,” Loy-Goto advised. “If you can, lift up any rugs, feel for moisture, open the dashboard, check the bottom of the dashboard, open the trunk, take out the spare tire, look at the rug underneath in the trunk and just lift up and look at the lowest areas in the car.”
Pay attention to any moldy or musty smells, which can be a sign of flood damage.
Beware of cars priced way below market value, because as the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
Consider paying for a vehicle history report, like a Carfax, and if you’re really in doubt, take it to a mechanic you trust to get a professional opinion.
Now if you don’t mind taking the chance of buying a flooded car to save some money upfront, make sure the repairs were done by a licensed salvage dealer, who signs off on those repairs.