Local technician shows how to avoid buying a flood damaged car

VIDEO: How to spot a potentially flood-damaged car

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - If you're looking to buy a used car you should beware of flood-damaged vehicles being resold. Authorities say thousands of vehicles may have been damaged, even destroyed, across our state during the severe flooding and storms earlier this month.

There are signs you can look for that will reveal if there was water damage to a used car.

Owner of Richard's Automotive Service in West Ashley, Richard Green says one of the first signs of a flood damaged car is a mildew smell.

"It's very very hard to get out, it would have to be professionally done and even then you would still have that [smell]," says Green.

Green says more clues are under the hood of the car. If there's water damage you might find rust on the nuts and bolts and corrosion too. Out of the 17 flood damaged cars towed in to Richard's automotive, all but one was totaled.

"This is just the mold and mildew that started all over the back of the seat and this you won't get out," says Green as he looks under the seats in a flood damaged car. "This is actually in the seat cushion."

If you're still searching for water damage, another place to look is in the trunk under the spare tire cover.

"A lot of people when they try to get rid of them [cars] they don't try to clean the moisture out," says Green. "You can see the mold that started around the spare tire."

The National Crime Bureau is working to catalog water-damaged vehicles by their VIN, or vehicle identification number, to keep salvaged cars from being resold.

"The only way that car can be purchased is if they send it out of state and yeah if you go out of state there's a chance you could get that," says Green. "The dealers around here, they're not going to do it to you, some of your mom and pops I would be a little leery of because they might have bought them at an auction or sale."

Rusted seat tracks or tailpipes, corroded wire connectors, a film on the seats or console, and powdery residue on certain components under the car are all signs of salt water damage.

If you're unsure about any damage, "Just go to your local mechanic, and just... tell them you're looking at a car," says Green.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved.