We had an interesting phone call last week followed by some email conversations with a buyer looking to buy a Salvaged 2010 Cadillac Escalade from a less than reputable dealer here in the Portland market. This particular Escalade was flood damaged. Despite our warnings about the dealer, our past experiences with them and their negative online reviews the buyer was still considering the inspection and purchase.
When most people think about flood vehicles, I think they think about the cosmetic factor of the interiors getting wet and then dried out. What most don’t realize is that a modern vehicle is a rolling network of very expensive modules (computers). In an Escalades case there are over 30 of these modules everywhere from under each seat, each door and in places you wouldn’t even imagine. Although the seller may tell you it was “minor” and it may even look and smell fine this is a ridiculously risky purchase. In this case a $30K purchase. All may appear be ok today but the types of failures, issues and abnormalities you may experience in the future will not only be extremely expensive, but very difficult for any technician to correctly diagnose. Something like a seat module acting up could completely take down the vehicles network or cause the engine to stall, ABS to activate while driving on the highway, render the airbags useless, window to roll down when you hit the horn, etc… After explaining this, the buyer emailed back to ask if GM would warranty it. Most don’t think about this but the answer is absolutely not. A manufactures warranty is in place to cover “manufacturing defects” not acts of nature, accidents, modifications, etc. Edmunds did a great write up on what voids a manufactures warranty – http://www.edmunds.com/auto-warranty/what-voids-your-vehicles-warranty.html
Again, don’t fall the attractive price, it’s just not worth the risk. Sometime in the future when you’re done pulling your hair out, throwing money at it and want to get rid of the vehicle, you’re going to lose out on the resell value even worse than you feel you gained on the initial purchase price.
Stick with clean title vehicles, go in cautiously and be sure to have them inspected!