If you’re thinking about buying a vehicle, be cautious of vehicles coming from areas affected by the recent flooding. Flooding can cause serious electrical and structural damage to a vehicle, putting you and your family at risk.
Many flood-damaged vehicles are not eligible to be registered for use in Saskatchewan or in any other Canadian province. Always do a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) search when buying a vehicle by going to sgi.sk.ca (for Saskatchewan information) or use websites such as Carfax.com (for example) for a more extensive search.
However, not all vehicles will have information available, so here are a few tips of what to look for:
Be a Smart Shopper:
Beware of used vehicles with price tags way below market value without an explanation.
The Sniff Test:
It’s very difficult to completely rid a flood-damaged car of its moldy aroma, and mildew is a sure sign that the car was exposed to large amounts of water. In addition, be warned, strong air fresheners may also be a sign.
Feel Your Way Around:
Water from flooding can collect in locations that may be missed when cleaning. Run your hands along the carpet and peel it back to check for signs of moisture. Check the trunk and remove the spare tire and feel in those areas as well.
Look for Corrosion:
Look for signs of corrosion on metals both inside and out including, rust on screws, door hinges, hood springs, trunk latches or brackets under the dashboard.
Take a good look at all the upholstery – front, back and under the seats – to spot blotchy, brown water stains. An older car with new upholstery or upholstery that doesn’t match is suspicious.
Take a Test Drive:
When you turn on the ignition, listen for unexpected sounds and use your eyes and nose to see if smoke appears anywhere. Poke your head under the dash and gently bend the wires to see if they are brittle. Check the oil, if it is the colour of coffee with milk or a chocolate milkshake it may be a flood-damaged vehicle.
Some areas of a flood-damaged vehicle won’t dry no matter how hard someone tries. Headlights/taillights/instrument panels may appear foggy where water has accumulated. Also check the overhang inside the wheel wells.
Check the following places for mud, silt or grass:
- Inside & under the glove box
- Engine crevices
- Under the spare tire
- Under the dash
- Below seats and in the seating tracks
- In the wheel wells
- Around wiring
Rely on Expert Eyes:
If after your own inspection you still aren’t sure about the vehicle, hire an expert. A mechanic can check the alternator, pumps, brakes, etc. for mud or silt.