7 on Your Side took three cars to the parking lot of Stew Leonards in Yonkers to see if customers could spot which one out of the three was submerged by Sandy on Long Island along with 15,000 other vehicles.
One customer said the cars looked exactly the same. People eyeballed, gave them the smell test and listened. However, some were still unsure of those senses.
"Unfortunately it is so easy to fool people, and that's why conmen are so successful in cleaning up and selling these cars," said Chris Basso of Carfax.
Basso pointed out flood car tipoff #1 - a simple cover hiding rust, and other damage in the engine.
"You can lift it up?all that corrosion, that salt damage from Hurricane Sandy, that's the result of saltwater," adds Basso.
Cheap cosmetic fixes get flood cars past the average buyer every day.
Basso also warns to be suspicious of strong air freshener smells. Flood car sign #2 is a perfumey interior. Air freshener can be used to mask the water that was standing in the vehicle.
There are also a few dead giveaways, and that is where flood car sign #3 comes in: condensation.
"There will be condensation inside the dash, inside the headlight, and the lowlights," notes Basso.
Flood car sign #4 - slide the seat back to check for rail rust.
"That should not be happening, especially," says Basso, "this is 2009, things don't corrode that quickly." Corrosion is a sign of the car sitting in water.
Flood car sign #5 - seatbelt mildew.
Flood car sign #6 - inside the trunk. If you If the carpet board is warped, the only thing to cause that damage is water.
Two of the people that 7 on Your Side asked to spot the flood car actually did, but they were not really sure.
Flood car tip #7 - Get the Carfax!
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