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How to avoid buying a flooded vehicle

A car sits in a flooded parking lot at an apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The impact of historic storms and hurricanes over the past two years is now being felt as flooded cars are popping up for sale.

Virginia leads the way with 11,500 flooded cars already on the road. Meanwhile, the District has 4,800 and Maryland is right behind with 4,700.

In most cases, it's illegal to sell a flood damaged car if you don't disclose the vehicle suffered damage.

Chris Basso with CarFax.com says a flooded car on the road is a huge safety risk.

"It could even impact the safety systems like your airbags and your anti-lock brakes. Effectively turning these flooded cars into ticking time bombs,” said Basso.

Here are some red flags to identify a flooded car:

"Really the metal parts. Especially the holder for the spare tire. Any of the tools that might be in here. If any of those are rusted that's a good sign that water got into this car,” said Basso.

Seat belts can be huge indicator of water damage.

"Feel the carpeting. Look underneath in the spare tile wheel well for a water line... mud or silt and especially rust,” said Basso.

Make sure you check under the hood too.

"Look for a water line which is a clear indication water got in here but also look for rust and oxidation on the mechanical parts,” said Basso.

You can view more safety tips and use a vehicle’s VIN number to check for free if it has suffered water damage here.

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