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How to Avoid Selecting a Weather-Damaged Vehicle

We’ve all seen the devastating aftermath across the United States due to recent natural disasters. While it’s unfortunate to see all the damage unfold, there have been great stories of communities, states, and the entire country coming together to help rebuild. Whether you’re purchasing a used vehicle because your previous one was lost in one of these disasters, or simply because you’re in need of something new to drive, you don’t want to be taken advantage of. Here are some ways to avoid selecting a vehicle that has been damaged by weather:

Be Wary of “Title Washing”

Sometimes, untrustworthy car sellers will title wash their vehicle’s salvage title, meaning evidence of a damaging past event is completely erased. Unless you avoid buying a used car in areas where a lot of weather damage to vehicles is prone to happening, it’s a bit difficult to tell if title washing has occurred. However, you can run the car’s VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database. This will allow you to see what types of issues have gone on with the car.

Do an Extremely Thorough Inspection

If a vehicle has gone through weather damage, especially flood damage, it’s going to be carefully cleaned to avoid anyone noticing any problems. But, if you know what to look for, you can prevent being tricked.  Here are a few tips:

  • Look for any signs of dried mud, mold, or mildew all throughout the vehicle, and make sure nothing is being done to disguise any smells due to these.
  • Test out every single feature, because water damage can often not be visible in the car, but will really impact the electric components of the vehicle. A good thing to check is the car speakers in the door, because these are lower and will often fail with water damage. Another area is any storage containers or cubbies, because you just might find rust, mud, or lingering water if you’re dealing with flood damage. Even if you don’t see anything wrong, it’s a good tip to get a mechanic you trust to check out the vehicle. Make sure the undercarriage is also looked over during this inspection.
  • Take the vehicle for a test drive! You should do this with any vehicle you’re about to buy, whether it’s new or pre-owned. Driving the vehicle will further make sure there isn’t anything strange going on with its performance.

Don’t Sacrifice for a “Great Deal”

You can often get a significantly lower price when vehicles are advertised as having gone through some type of weather damage, especially hail. It’s very important to take some things into consideration before purchasing one of these vehicles. If you’ll be financing this vehicle, make sure your lender will work with you on a hail-damaged car. Also, make sure you will still be eligible for your car insurance plan. When it comes to the actual performance of the car, have a professional give your vehicle the ‘OK’ so that you don’t discover more damage down the road.

If you’re about to purchase a used vehicle and are worried about potential weather damage, don’t hesitate to contact us! We have highly-trained mechanics that can thoroughly inspect the vehicle for you, or answer any questions you may have.  We are also careful to keep only top-quality vehicles on our lot. Call 210-828-1515 with any questions.