New purchase

I purchased a 2004 mercury about a month ago. While installing the wire for a trailer hitch I noticed some of the surfaces under the dash had rust on them. Upon checking farther I noticed that the brake pedel also had rust on it and the metel on the bottom of the seats had some also. I then pulled back the carpet in the front seat and there was a few dead bugs between the carpet and padding. There was nothing on the carfax report about being in a flood. This vehicle was in Flordia and ended up in wisconsin and I bought it from a reputable ford dealer from which I purchased a few vehicles before with no problem. It seems to be in good shape but I am concerened about it being flood and not showing up on the carfax report. would it be in my best interest to get this checked out by a different dealer? I am concerened that if it was flooded that it may be future problems and it may have a shortened life. Also if this is a problem is this something that the dealer that I bought it from should have noticed? If this is the case do I have any rights to go back to the dealer and is he reponsible for anything.

Unfortunately, it does sound like that car was a former “flood car”. And, it is also unfortunate that Carfax’s marketing campaign has led people to believe that it is a panacea for determining possible problems in a car’s history.

The ugly truth is that Carfax often does not reveal everything about a car’s background, and many buyers have found this out the hard way. When all is said and done, there is no substitute for having a used car inspected by your own mechanic, as there are are additional indicators of a flood history that he might have discovered if the car was put on a lift.

All of this being said, I recall that Wisconsin has some pretty strong consumer protection regulations in effect. I would suggest that you contact your Office of Consumer Protection (this could be operated on either the county level or the state level) for information about possible recourse.

DO NOT waste your time with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), as this–just like Carfax–is a private, profit-making entity with no punitive or enforcement authority, and ultimately is probably going to be both a waste of your time and a waste of the fee that many local BBBs require for filing a report.

(If you want more information about the BBB–frequently referred to as the Better For Business Bureau, post back.)

If the car was near one of the Florida coasts, this might explain the rust. If the car is performing as it should, and has for the month that you have owned it, you may be o.k. I’ve always thought it best to have an independent mechanic check a car out even if it comes from a franchised dealer before purchasing. However, after the purchase if things seem o.k., I wouldn’t worry. There probably isn’t much you can do.

Discuss it with the dealer. They may offer some remedy for you, or might investigate the car’s heritage. If you’ve bought several cars from them, that nay carry some weight. It’s a place to start, at least. Let us know what happens.

Unpainted surfaces will rust in ANY car. In Florida, they will rust faster. You could remove a door panel (or have someone do it) and check inside the door for a layer of silt or obvious water damage. There should be an unbroken plastic sheet, a vapor/water barrier, behind the panel. If that plastic sheet is missing, someone has been inside the door…

i did pull back two door panels and there were untouched plastic behind them so I pulled them off slightly and they did seem like they were untouched and from what I could see everything looked ok