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Maryland agencies urging drivers to check their vehicles for signs of flood damage

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE -- Maryland agencies are encouraging drivers to check their vehicles for signs of flood damage.

The Maryland department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Association, and the Maryland Insurance Administration issued a consumer alert Wednesday urging drivers to be aware of the signs of flood damage on their vehicles.  

"Vehicles that have recently sustained flood-related damage may still look great in photos, but may develop rust and mold over the long-term," MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer said in a statement Wednesday.  

Transportation administrators are reminding used-car buyers to remain vigilant and informed. Condensation in headlights and taillights, a musty stench, rust marks, and mold or mildew on upholstery or carpets can all be indicators of water damage. 

Flood damage can compromise a car's computer and safety devices, especially the airbag sensors.

MDOT MVA and MIA listed the following tips for consumers looking to buy a new car:

  • Check the car. Check engine block or radiator for high-water mark. 
  • Check wires and other components for rust or corrosion.
  • Be wary of damp and mildew odors. Check the trunk and spare tire for watermarks.
  • Try to buy from a licensed dealer, as flood-damaged cars are often auctioned or "curb stoned." Dishonest sellers often avoid laws by posing as a private seller or online service. Not all private sellers are misleading, but it's always best to check your seller out before buying.
  • Always ask the dealer for a car history report before buying.  Carfax, Auto Check, and Consumer Guide are three websites where you can find comprehensive vehicle reports by providing a valid vehicle identification number. 
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