When inspecting a vehicle, walk away from the deal if it doesn't smell right

When inspecting a vehicle, walk away from the deal if it doesn't smell right

By Doug Pacey / ADOT Communications
September 9, 2021

While the recent Hurricane Ida never came close to the Southwest, the storm can have an impact on Arizonans considering the purchase of a car. It’s not uncommon for vehicles damaged by flood waters to be shipped hundreds of miles away and placed on the market

Prospective buyers can protect themselves by closely inspecting a vehicle before purchasing it. Remember, a flood-damaged car might smell of mildew. If the car doesn’t pass a smell test, walk away. Follow these tips when inspecting a vehicle:

  • Inspect the vehicle’s nooks and crannies. Examine the trunk for dirt, silt and mold. Check under the dashboard and other hard-to-reach places as well. People trying to rip you off usually don’t clean all of those places. Finally, take a good sniff in those areas. Water damage leaves a distinctive odor.
  • Check the electrical and mechanical components. Water wreaks havoc on electrical systems, so take a thorough look to see if any of those systems aren’t working quite right. Also check the engine for signs of rust or even random new parts. Get under the vehicle and check the suspension for water damage. Any of those things could be a sign that you’re in danger of buying a flood-damaged vehicle. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, find a reputable mechanic.

Additional car-buying tips can be found on ADOT’s website at

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