What to look for when buying used car after historic East TN flooding

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning residents to be careful buying a car after historic flooding months ago.

More: How to spot a flood-damaged vehicle

Car specialists at Polish-Masters Certified Detail Specialists, Inc. in West Knoxville explained what you need to consider when buying a used car.

“This is one of the areas where it most often shows up,” said John Thornburg, pointing to the trunk of a car.

Thornburg stresses would-be buyers should never overlook the trunk. 

“When a car’s been underwater or been in a flood event, these low-lying areas in the car pockets will always accumulate water and the people who do the recon work don’t want to spend the effort to clean out water stains and water lines,” he said.

It’s suggested checking where the spare tire is kept for rust and original paint. Thornburg says then move to the passenger side of the car. 

“The first clues you’ll have is that it’ll have a funny smell. It’ll have a mold or musty, unusual smell,” said Thornburg.

Remember to look for rust on unpainted gear under the seats, as well as checking the air filter.

Thornburg says from there, check under the hood. 

“The tell-tale signs of that is you can see fresh bolts, oftentimes fresh paint in the engine bay itself.”

The joints in front wheel drive cars, with flooding damage, will operate differently.

“If they’ve been underwater for a long time they’ll develop leaks. It’ll start to make a noise or a popping sound,” added Thornburg.

When it comes to mini-vans, he says check the trunk as well. 

“A lot of times the water will be out of the car but they’ll have left the carpet in it and simply just dyed it.”

Thornburg says to check the sliding doors on a van for rust, also check the electronics of the car by making sure every window and every seat operates properly, every time.

“If you see something that doesn’t look right, doesn’t smell right or doesn’t feel right, ask them questions about it,” said Thornburg.

Also, be sure to use a title check service before you buy by using a trustworthy title check service, such as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

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