PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Heavy flooding not only left drivers stranded for hours Monday afternoon, it also left many without a ride home.
Dozens of drivers had to abandon their cars as they became submerged in floodwaters on major highways, main roads and side streets across Rhode Island.
Those vehicles were then towed once the water receded.
Gregory Costa, owner of Safeway Automotive Services, tells 12 News that once a vehicle has been submerged in water, it is no longer safe to drive.
“It could malfunction,” he explained. “The electrical system … It might make the vehicle not stop or start, it could interfere with the steering … a lot of these vehicles come with electronic steering now a days.”
If the owner of a waterlogged vehicle decides to go through their insurance to purchase a new car, often times the company will mark the vehicle as “totaled.”
“It’s going to cost more to repair the vehicle than what it’s worth, so they’ll have to salvage the title,” he said.
Those vehicles are typically either sent to auction or a junk yard to be scrapped. But Costa said there’s always a possibility that a water-damaged car winds up at a used car dealership.
Costa said used car dealerships may never know whether the vehicle was previously submerged in water, especially if the damage isn’t visibly apparent.
“If someone had a flooded car and they had a dehumidifier in the vehicle to dry the vehicle out, you might never know,” he explained.
When it comes to making sure you don’t end up purchasing a waterlogged vehicle, Costa encouraged potential buyers to seek more information from the seller on the car’s history.
Costa also suggested having a mechanic inspect the car for any potential water damage prior to the purchase.
“Look for any signs of rust in the vehicle, that’s going to be a tell tale sign that there might be a problem,” he said.
Specifically, Costa expressed the importance of checking under the car’s dashboard. The metal brackets underneath can rust if exposed to water, which Costa said could be another warning sign.