INDIANAPOLIS — In the wake of devastating natural disasters like Hurricane Ian, scammers always find a way to try and take advantage of people. In this case, it could be those looking for a used car in a competitive resale market.
”People are trying to take some more gambles, get the best price they can and that can be dangerous sometimes,” said Alex McKinney, a sales manager at Indy Motors.
As people in Florida clean up the damage from Hurricane Ian, many will find cars damaged by strong flooding. The Better Business Bureau of central Indiana said some of those waterlogged automobiles could end up being sold to unsuspecting buyers.
”These vehicles typically show up in auto auctions, used car dealerships and in classified ads,” said Shelbi Felblinger, from the BBB of central Indiana.
She said scammers will try and fool buyers in states not impacted by flooding, like Indiana. One of the first things you should do when buying a used car is check the title.
”If the title is either stamped salvage or arrived from an area recently hit by flooding, this is when you’re going to want to start asking questions,” Felblinger said.
But it’s also important to know what to look for if a car has been damaged by flooding.
”Be looking for moisture in the headlights,” McKinney said. “Sometimes with water damage or flooding they can get into the headlights.”
McKinney walked us around a car showing some of the most common spots to look for water damage.
”A big one for sure to look at is carpet damage or anything like that, a lot of places like to hide those type of things,” McKinney said.
He said it’s a good idea to thoroughly check the interior and exterior of the car.
“Seeing rust from where water could have been, looking at the rims too, sometimes those can get water damage and rust,” McKinney said.
A simple smell test is good way of telling if a car has had serious water damage. Felblinger said even if the upholstery is changed, the smell could stick around.
”It’s just going to be ingrained in the vehicle and you’re going to smell that when either the heat or air come on,” she said.
Water and wiring don’t mix so it’s also important to check all of the electrical components.
”Turning on signals, the cigarette lighter, radio, heater, air conditioner several times to make sure they all work,” said Felblinger
It’s always a good idea to get any used vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic to make sure nothing is slipping by unnoticed.