RALEIGH – After last week’s flood, the Division of Motor Vehicle’s License and Theft Bureau issued a reminder to watch out for flood-salvaged cars when buying a new ride.

Steve Watkins from the DMV’s License and Theft Bureau says that, especially with the current weather, consumers need to be vigilant about water damage.

“We’re in hurricane season and they’re expecting some storms this fall,” Watkins says. “You have to definitely think about vehicles, whether they’re on a car dealership’s lot or parked out on the street in front of an individual owner’s house, that that vehicle can be submerged or partially submerged underwater.”

Watkins cautions that just looking at a car’s title, which contains information about a car, and looking to see if it has a flood or salvage brand or note is not enough.

“We do have concerns, and it’s not a very common thing, but you do have people out there who will remove a brand from a title,” Watkins says. “If it’s a flood vehicle and they want to sell that vehicle for more, they can take a lot of different tools and remove that brand and it will sell just like a normal vehicle.”

Instead, Watkins advises that consumers not only take cars for extensive test drives, but also make a number of inspections for flood damage.

“Make sure you raise the hood. A lot of times, if it’s been sitting in water, there will be a water mark on the engine if it’s been submerged,” Watkins says.

Other signs of water damage can be worn or rusted screws and bolts, faulty lights and electronics and flood residue inside the car.

“Open up the door, look inside the door, see if there’s any mud or dirt,” Watkins says. “Look around the floorboards, because a lot of that trash can collect there.”

If consumers are unsure about a car and suspect flood damage, they are encouraged to contact the License and Theft Bureau, which has experts who can assess a car’s condition.