EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The cleanup continues in Florida after Hurricane Ian which includes thousands of vehicles that were damaged in the floodwaters.

With a shortage of new and used cars on the market, AAA Northeast is warning that flooded cars may be making their way to New England.

CarFax has previously reported that almost 50% of flood-damaged vehicles have returned to the market as used cars, giving no mention to their previous damages.

AAA has offered some tips to help you spot a flood-damaged vehicle:

  • Insurance companies often declare flood-damaged vehicles as total losses, and those cars are then sold to salvage companies. However, rather than being dismantled for parts, some of these vehicles are purchased by individuals who restore them to some degree of working order. AAA warns car buyers that water-damaged vehicles can be transported anywhere in the U.S. for resale, and often continue to appear in the marketplace for many months following major floods.
  • Acquire a CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Before buying the vehicle, check the report, it may reveal if the car has been in a flood or been issued a salvage title.
  • Look for the signs to determine if a used vehicle has been water damaged. 
    • Damp or musty odors inside the vehicle.
    • Carpet or upholstery that has been replaced or recently shampooed. Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt, rust or water stains.
    • Mud and dirt on the underside of the dashboard. This area is hard to clean.
    • Rust on the underside of the vehicle. Corrosion is uncommon in newer vehicles and those that are owned and operated in warmer climates.
    • Rust, mud, dirt or discoloration in body seams and small out-of-the-way crevices on the doors, under the hood and inside the trunk.
    • Open all doors, hood, and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping. Pay special attention to small spaces and crevices that are difficult to clean.
    • Inspect the dashboard underside for signs of mud and dirt. This is a particularly hard area to clean.
    • Electrical components, such as lighting, the heater/AC fan, window motors and more that are not functioning properly.
    • Check all warning lights, window motors, and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, it combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. To locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you you can visit their website.

“If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. The continued shortage of used car inventory coupled with increased buyer demand will continue to push up prices,” a release from AAA added.