Looks can be deceiving when it comes to flood-damaged vehicles.
Mechanics say it sometimes starts with a strange noise, prompting the consumers to take their car to a mechanic, eventually learning the car is no good.
This is the last thing any driver wants to hear.
That's why the National Insurance Crime Bureau issued a new vehicle warning. They're telling drivers to beware of flood-damaged cars from Hurricane Harvey because they could soon pop up at a car lot near you.
They'll be cleaned up, shipped off, and if the car was not insured, there probably won't be any record of the damage.
"Small car lots, they're going to be picking up those cars because they can get them for cheap and if they can get them running," said Tarrant County College Automotive Instructor Tracy Miller. "It can be very dangerous to drive a flooded car. If anti-lock brake computers get wet they're not going to function properly. Your brakes may not function properly. In a lot of modern cars, the power steering systems those are electronic, so that may not function properly. Air bag system might not function properly."
So if you're in the market for a car, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:
• Look for water stains, mildew or sand
• Check under the carpet and floor mats for silt
• You can even check the spare tire for moisture
• Look for fogging inside the headlights and tail-lights
• You'll also want to do a smell test. Does the car have a heavy air freshener scent? If so,that could be a red flag.
Know the difference between a "salvage title" and a "flood title." A salvage title means the car is a total loss because of a serious accident. A "flood title" means the car has damage from sitting in deep water.
Also, consider getting a vehicle history report. Some companies offer a small fee, but keep in mind this is not always foolproof.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a free database where you can check the car's VIN.