(NEW YORK) — The deluge of floodwaters from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that recently inundated parts of Texas and Florida did not spare cars, and now experts are warning of a potential rise in flood-damaged vehicles, full of hidden dangers, hitting the market.
“This could be an unprecedented year for the number of flood cars that are damaged, as well as could be cleaned up, and put back on the road,” Christopher Basso, a spokesperson for Carfax, a vehicle-history provider, told ABC News.
Basso said that even before these recent monster storms, there had been a 20-percent increase in so-called “flood cars” hitting the roads again.
Harvey and Irma may have flooded an estimated half-a-million to one million cars, according to the firm Cox Automotive.
Basso emphasized that cars that have been previously flooded can potentially hold many hidden dangers.
“It’s like putting a computer into a bathtub,” Basso said. “It’s really impossible to tell when it’s going to break those systems down, but sooner or later the mechanical, the electrical, and the safety systems could be compromised which puts you and your family in danger.”
Some car owners may try to hide the signs of flood damage to their car before trying to resell them. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Carmax showed ABC News how in just five hours they could give a makeover to a so-called flood car and make it look presentable, outwardly hiding signs of the damage.
Experts advised that before buying a used car to get a full vehicle history report on the vehicle and take it to a mechanic who can look at it closely for hidden signs of trouble.
“Flooded cars can look great they can run perfectly for the short term but the long term and probably sooner than later those cars are going to break down because they are literally rotting from the inside out,” Basso said.
The National Automobile Dealers Association posted a list of ten inspection tips to detect flood-damaged vehicles on their website, which includes among other things, to check for rust on screws in the console and other areas where water would not normally reach unless the vehicle was submerged, check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and inspect electrical wiring for rusted components or suspicious corrosion.
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