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Beware of a flood-damaged car

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With the onslaught of hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year, a slew of flood-damaged cars could make their way to a car lot near you.

Before you grab that too-good-to-be-true deal, take a closer look at any used car you’re considering buying.

“You definitely don't want to buy a flood-damaged car,” says Doug McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive. ”

When water makes it into the passenger compartment, of a car it’s usually considered a total loss.  “Most of the time anything that has been in a flood will immediately be totaled by the insurance company because of water intrusion into all the electronics and wiring on the floor of the car,” McAllister says. “Once these components get wet, you can end up chasing electrical problems from now until the cows come home. Typically, these cars don't make it back into the marketplace, but there is no guarantee.”

So, how do you protect yourself?

Start by requesting a Carfax report, McAllister suggests. “This provides an accident and repair history for the car. Many dealers provide them, but you can purchase one yourself. Also make sure the car does not have a rebuilt title. McAllister advises having a professional inspect the car but notes that you can do some investigating on your own.

Give the car the sniff test for moisture or mold. Then look for visible signs in places that would be hard to clean, like  the spare tire well. If the car has new carpeting, that might be a red flag, as well, because car owners typically don’t replace carpeting.

“Make sure all the electrical components work properly and follow your instincts. If in doubt, walk away,” says McAllister,

Finally, if you are working with a dealership, make sure it is a reputable one by checking reviews online.

Douglas Automotive

Three locations:

Crystal Lake – 123 E. Virginia, (815) 356-0440

Barrington – 417 W. Main Street, (847) 381-0454

Fox River Grove – 416 Northwest Highway, (847) 639-4552

Visit www.douglasautomotive.com for more info.