With recent heavy rains and flooding in the Midstate, the Better Business Bureau is warning car buyers to be on the lookout for scams.

Flooded cars are often cleaned up and resold. Those damaged vehicles can deceive buyers who think they're getting a great deal, unless you know what to look out for.

"Upholstery is a dead giveaway. Look for water stains. Is it clean? What does it smell like? Mildew is a good giveaway that this car was in water," said Robin Householder, CEO of the BBB of Middle Tennessee.

Householder said oftentimes flooded-out vehicles are sent to other states, far away from the flood event, to deceive consumers. She admits her local office also receives consumer complaints after flooding events, but oftentimes it's too late because the purchase has been finalized.

Householder advises taking a close look at the car title. She said vehicles declared a "total loss" by an insurance company would get a new title, indicating "salvage" or "flood damaged."

She also suggests checking the instrument panel, since it's one of the most obvious areas to show signs of moisture.

"Look for steam," Householder said. "Has the dashboard been replaced? Do all the gauges, lights and radio work correctly?"

If you’re still not sure, you can purchase a Carfax report on the vehicle using its VIN.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Chris Miller joined News4 in 2012 as the anchor for News4 Today.

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