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How to avoid buying a flood-damaged car

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Alabama has one of the highest rates in the nation for having flood-damaged cars back on the road or up for sale. (WBMA)

The flood waters from Hurricane Harvey have damaged tens of thousands of cars in Texas. But we have floods in Alabama, too.

Experts say flood-damaged cars that are sold, instead of scrapped, can have electrical, mechanical and even safety issues that can put your life on the line.

Alabama has one of the highest rates in the nation for having flood-damaged cars back on the road or up for sale. That’s according to Carfax—the company that provides vehicle history reports on used cars.

In fact, Carfax spokesman Chris Basso called flood-damaged cars "ticking time bombs."

According to Carfax, there are about 5,300 flood-damaged cars in the state that are on the road or for sale.

Flood-damaged car dangers

Here’s the danger from flood-damaged cars:

  • Brakes, air bags and seat belts could fail
  • There could be engine or exhaust system failure
  • Bacteria in the ventilation system

How to avoid buying a flood-damaged car

Here’s how to avoid buying a flood-damaged car:

  • Shop at a well-established dealership that receive top ratings from the Better Business Bureau. You’re safer.
  • Avoid cars with a moldy smell and those that smell like air freshener.
  • Avoid cars where there’s any sign of rust, corrosion or dampness on the interior.

Carfax offers a free flood check. Go to Carfax.com/flood. Enter the vehicle identification number, and your email address, on their website to see if the car you’re considering was flood-damaged.

Finally, get the car checked by your own mechanic before you buy it.

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