Flooded-out cars from superstorm could make their way to Arizona
If you're in the market for a used car, don't be sucked in by a used car that may have been flooded out by superstorm Sandy on the east coast.
As was the case after Hurricane Katrina, cars that were partially or fully submerged may end up being transported around the country where they are cosmetically refurbished and sold as reliable used cars. Local mechanics say the pleasing exterior and interior may hide mechanical problems that will cause ongoing headaches for the new owners.
Specifically, John Roeckner of Sundance Auto Service on Van Buren St. in Phoenix says, submersion creates problems with both mechanical and electrical systems. The engine may be problematic if floodwaters got into the engine, specifically diluting the engine oil, and transmission and differential fluids.
Water can also cause problems with a car's wiring and electronics, such as the computer that regulates the engine. Roeckner says those problems may be intermittent, making it difficult to diagnose them.
If you're looking for a used vehicle, Roeckner suggests doing your homework. Take it for a test drive and be aware of any electrical problems, such as with the radio, ventilation systems, and lights. Use your nose to check for any smells of mold or mildew, possibly hidden under the carpeting or in the upholstery. Look for signs of moisture or dried water droplets where you wouldn't expect to find any, such as in the headlights or dashboard gauges.
Finally, he says for any used car purchase – even from a dealer – you should get the car checked out by a reliable, independent mechanic, including getting the vehicle's "CarFax," a record of where the car has been registered and whether it has been totaled by an insurance company. Roeckner says some cars that have been classified as "totaled" are refurbished and re-sold, but there's a good chance they'll never operate properly.