Although the immediate impact from flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy may be localized, the potential for thousands of water-damaged vehicles to make their way out of the affected areas and into other parts of the country during the next several weeks or months remains a very real concern. To help protect against becoming a victim of this situation, KBB.com recommends that if you're in the market for a vehicle -- especially a used one -- take several precautionary measures before you make any purchase decision.
The best way to protect your interests is to deal with a well-established reseller. But even then, be sure to look into the vehicle's title history using a reputable data sources like Experian's AutoCheck or other similar reports. The next step involves performing a thorough visual inspection that can be done either by you or a trusted mechanic. In addition to looking for obvious signs of water intrusion in the passenger compartment or trunk area, subject the car or truck in question to a "sniff test" to detect any hint of hidden mold or mildew that may be lingering out of sight. Also, look and feel under the dash area and pull back the carpet or mats for any signs of mud or silt residue and examine all low-lying exposed metal bits like seat rails for evidence of rust. Use a similar methodical approach when you check underhood, keeping an eye out for mud, silt or rust on various components and looking for corrosion on electrical connections. Also examine all of the vital fluids for any evidence of water contamination that usually manifests itself by giving them a milky brown appearance. Finally, check for rust on the brake rotors and undercarriage elements. At the end of the process, if you see, smell or feel anything that raises even the slightest doubt in your mind, take a pass on the deal.