Santa Maria - North County

Santa Maria mechanic shows how to avoid buying a flood damaged car

1 million flood damaged vehicles from storms

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - It's estimated that about a million vehicles were damaged by all the flooding in the United States recently - and all those cars have to go somewhere - and they sometimes end up here on the West Coast.

However, there are some telltale signs though, right under the hood. 

"I'm looking for a new car because I've been driving my car for 12 years and it's definitely time," Renee Mason said, who's shopping for a new car. 

Renee Mason knows that buying a new car can be stressful enough. 

"They only had grey and I'm kind of holding out for a shiny black one," Mason said.  

But now she has more to worry about than just the color of her next car. 

"When I was looking and researching for cars I saw a video on flood damaged cars and it's been in the back of my mind," Mason said. "It's shocking.. I can't imagine somebody buying a car and then finding out later.. that the reason why it's not working for hard working families is that it was damaged in the flood."

Santa Maria mechanics talked to us about the tell-tale signs that a vehicle has been flood damaged - and noted that it can take months to years to notice an issue.  

"Typical bolts will be rusted out," Randy Tate with Rizzoli's Automotive said. 

Randy Tate over at Rizzoli's Automotive in Santa Maria says to take a close look at the engine.  

"This one has a plastic cover but it would be rusted as well," Tate said.  

Computer components would likely be corroded from water and could have a green substance on it.

"Get down here and pull back the carpet to see if there's any mold or the smell of mold," Tate said.  

There could be a hidden sign in the trunk of the car. 

"If there's a lot of rust and corrosion down here where the spare tire sits.. that's evidence that it was really covered in water as well," Tate said. 

"I've been saving up and hopefully I can just write a check and be out the door.. that's a big commitment and want to make sure I'm not getting something that's damaged," Mason said. 

It's recommended that you always have a mechanic check out a car before you buy it.


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