Buying a used vehicle in Arizona? Check for signs of flood damage first

Jul 28, 2021, 4:35 AM
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)...
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

PHOENIX – If a used car or truck up for sale can’t pass the smell test, particularly during Arizona monsoon season, walk away.

That’s the recommendation the Arizona Department of Transportation has for anyone shopping around for a previously owned right now.

“It sounds weird to say to give it a sniff [but] we all know water damage can leave a distinct odor,” agency spokesman Doug Pacey said.

“If you smell something like mold or that lingering water-damage smell, it’s probably not a good idea to continue thinking about buying that car.”

Damaged vehicles should include “salvage” or “flood damage” on the title, but that doesn’t always happen, Pacey said.

But there are ways a buyer can protect themselves from being taken for a ride.

“Ask questions about the car’s history: has it been in any crashes; is the title current? We all know used cars – there will be some wear and tear,” Pacey said.

He added to look for dirt, mud or sand under floor mats, carpeting, dashboard and inside the trunk; check underneath the vehicle for water damage and see if the engine has any rust.

Make sure the electrical system is in working order.

“Water can really mess with an electrical system,” Pacey said. “Do all the lights and the blinkers work? Is everything on the dashboard or control panel working as it should?”

Pacey added it may be a good idea to bring along a mechanic on the shopping trip.

“If the car is in good working order, the seller shouldn’t have a problem with that.”

ADOT has more car-buying advice on its website.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Tasler contributed to this report.

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Buying a used vehicle in Arizona? Check for signs of flood damage first