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Beware: Flooded cars are headed to car lots

Chances are, you wouldn't know a flooded car by simply looking at the outside. How to check for telltale signs of water damage.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Elsa’s rain and floodwaters combined with a shortage of chips to make new cars and used cars being in high demand add up to flooded out cars making their way to car lots in the future.

“I mean, anytime there are natural disasters, it's more likely that somebody is going to try to recoup some of their money, however, they can," says  Jake McKnight of Fairway Auto Center.

So how can you tell if someone wants to sell you a con instead of a car?
Before you buy any used car, you should get a report from CARFAX or the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It'll show you everything that car's gone through, based on its VIN. If it says ‘salvage’ or ‘rebuilt’ that could mean flood damage.

Consumer Reports has specific places for you to check in the car that gives away flood damage. 

The first thing you want to do is come over to the front of the car. Inhale and see if there’s any kind of moldy or musty smell. If you have that you definitely want to walk away from the car.

Next, pop up the trim panel on the side of the door here. If the carpet is dirty, or if there's any kind of sediment in here or rust.

Also, look in the door pockets. If there's any kind of sediment in here or dirt or stones, that's what happened when the water came up and into the car, and as it drained away it settled and hid in there.

Look where a spare tire would be kept. If it's got sound deadening, smell if it's musty or moldy. See if there's any rust on exposed screws, on the panels, or even on the tools like the jack or the jack stand.

Anytime you buy a used car, you should always take it to a 3rd party mechanic to be looked at. It will cost between $50 and $100 for them to look at it. From all the horror stories I hear from folks, it's money well spent.

If someone is selling a car ‘AS IS’ that's what it means. If the car breaks down a mile from the dealer, it's not their liability.

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