Local News

Recent heavy rains leave flood of damaged cars

Posted May 9, 2014

— Area auto repair shops have seen a steady stream of waterlogged cars needing repair in recent days following heavy rains across central North Carolina last week.

Parts of Cumberland, Sampson and Wilson counties experienced flooding on April 29, swamping some cars in parking lots and causing problems for drivers.

Mechanics at Reed Lallier Chevrolet in Fayetteville were working on a Mercedes-Benz on Friday that needed about $5,000 in engine repair after its owner decided to drive through about 12 inches of water.

Bob Miarer, who has worked on cars for more than 25 years, said he's seen his share of flood cars. The Mercedes engine was "sucking up like a straw" after water came in through the front grill, he said.

"Water is heavier than oil, so it will work its way into places – into the differential, possibly into the transmission – besides the engine. So, we really won't know until we take it apart. We'll look for any kind of contamination," he said.

Aside from the mechanical workings of the car, water and computer systems don't mix.

"Some cars can have has many as 30 computers on them," Miarer said. "One component itself can run $800 to $1,500."

Some flood-damaged cars end up sold to unsuspecting buyers, so Neil Gallager of Reed Lallier Chevrolet advised anyone in the market for a used car to be wary.

"You're going to want to look for any type of damp carpets, any water lines where water may have gotten and a little bit of dirt – sediment lines," Gallager said. "You can look for any type of corrosion."

Buyers can ask for a vehicle CarFax, but in might not show that a vehicle has flood damage. They also can take it to a qualified repair shop for an inspection before finalizing the purchase.

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