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How to Identify a Flood Damaged Vehicle

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How to Identify a Flood Damaged Vehicle

It is important for those considering the purchase of a used vehicle to be car care aware and check for signs of water intrusion or contamination, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

"Purchasing a used vehicle and later learning it has been flood damaged can be very problematic and lead to costly issues down the road. Worst yet, these vehicles can be unhealthy to occupy because of mold and bacteria growing in the carpet and ventilation system," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council and the Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN), a network of professional automotive service providers, say it all comes down to how much water the vehicle took in and where it can be reached and together recommend taking the following steps to determine if a vehicle has been flood damaged:

  • Take the sniff test. Close all the windows and doors and let the car sit for about five minutes then crack open a door and sniff. Mildew and mold have very distinctive smells and it doesn't take long for that smell to present itself.
  • Try the touch test. Get some paper towels and press them against the low spots in the carpet. The paper towels will draw the moisture out and reveal if the carpet is wet under the surface. Some carpets can be several inches thick to insulate from heat and sound. If the paper towel becomes wet it could mean water has gotten into the car.
  • Investigate the interior. Look under the seats and dash for corrosion and rust and look for exposed metal that is untreated. There are metal springs under the front seats that are usually not painted. If they are rusted that is a sign the interior has been wet. Look for mud and debris in places it does not belong.
  • Inspect the instrument panel. Turn on the key and perform a bulb test. Make sure every bulb lights up. If a system has an issue, removing the warning bulb can hide it. Many times vehicles that have flooded have malfunctions in their anti-brake and air bag systems. Ensuring the light comes on and then goes out after the bulb test is an indicator that the system is on and has no active faults.
  • Take it to a professional. Let a service and repair technician inspect your vehicle. They can raise the car and look underneath to see if there is any mud, sticks or rocks in the suspension. A professional can check the oil in the differentials to make sure they contain no water in them. Spend a few dollars to have it looked over to give you peace of mind.

Source: Car Car Council

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    Very very fast and great prices.

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    Rick And his staff are quite simply the best in Austin. Friendly, fast and very reasonable. I will not take my car anywhere else.

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    Whenever I need something done on one of my cars, this is where I go! I find them to be HONEST and PROFESSIONAL. Rick and Aaron are the best.

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    Wow, what a great place. Super nice and helpful guys. They're funny and easy to talk to, and explain things to you really well without talking down to you AT ALL. The shop is tidy and clean. I came in with what I thought was a simple fix, but it turned out to be catastrophic engine failure. :( SW Automotive could have made up anything in an attempt to get more work out of me, but instead, they gave me a bunch of tips about car shopping and how to get into a more reliable car. They even took a quick look at a used car I was test-driving and offered advice on that. Many thumbs up for this place.

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    The owner, Rick and his staff are men of integrity, ethics, honest and solid value standards. You will not go wrong with them. I most definitely recommend this automotive repair business! It is top-of-the-mark! I find it outstanding these men actually listen to a woman talk of what seems to be wrong and they take the time to check out every detail.

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    Have a 2009 Hyundai and engine light came on. Ran my own test and 5 different codes came up, all of which I did not have the ability to repair. Took it to SW Automotive and was prepared for the worst but also heard great things about SWA so prayed for the best. Turns out carbon build up in the fuel lines caused the error codes, $89 and I was out of there!! I am always pessimistic about repair shops as they think they can easily trick me into thinking repairs are needed when they are not. Well SW Automotive now allows me to be optimistic about my future auto repairs.

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