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Experts warn of delayed flood damage to vehicles, attempts to resell in Amarillo area

After flash flooding in Amarillo, vehicles could be damaged and consumer advocates warn they could wind up in a used car lot. (ABC 7 Amarillo - Steve Douglass)

The Amarillo area saw major flash flooding on June 2 and 3 following heavy rain and downpours.

Almost two weeks later, vehicle mechanics tell ABC 7 News they saw more flood damaged vehicles than they've ever seen for this particular issue.

"We've seen probably about 23 of them in our shop alone," Anthony Young, Owner of Young's Automotive said.

Young said they've seen anything from electrical problems to locked up engines.

"Other times it just needs oil and filter and fluids changed," Young said. "One of the big things we need to watch out for is if we did get into the flood is the electronics on the car."

According to Young, if water gets above the bumper you should expect major damage but sometimes not right away.

"It may be a month or two down the road and then we start seeing transmissions not shifting and this type of thing, engines not running right," Young said. "If you pull water into the rear differential, the front differential, transmission, all those components are down low and they'll usually pull in water. That fluid needs to be changed. Otherwise, a couple months down the road you are going to be replacing a major component."

Whether these vehicles get fixed or not, Young warns you could end up buying one if you aren't careful.

"Some of these flood vehicles may end up in the used car lots," Young said.

Young and consumer advocates advise having a pre-purchase inspection of used cars to avoid buying a damaged one.

"It's always wise to start with trust," CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Amarillo Janna Kiehl said. "Start at the BBB website when you go shopping for a vehicle. Always look for other factors involved, as well, not just price. There may be a really good car out there that looks good on the surface and if you don't have it checked out by a mechanic, then in the future it might break down. Maybe something major will happen and you'll have to pay a lot of money for repairs."

The BBB recommends the following tips to help consumers determine if a car is flood-damaged:

  • Start With Trust® Check out the reliability of the dealer by contacting BBB at bbb.org/Amarillo.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped "salvage."
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate and look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car's history seems suspicious, ask the dealer or individual directly if the car has been damaged by floodwater.
  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save you money in the long run if major problems are discovered.

Kiehl said checking with the BBB before going to get a car fixed or buy one will help ensure you get the service you need.

"You want to make sure the company is reputable so that if you do have any problems or there are any misunderstandings, they'll likely work it out with you in the end," Kiehl said.

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