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Eric's Autos: Avoid a "Harvey Special"

Eric Peters on

So, how to avoid one of these overly H2O'd Harvey Hoopties?

Don't trust Carfax or any other title search service as 100 percent reliable. They are helpful, but not necessarily authoritative.

Do look for evidence of water penetration in areas that should never show signs of having been wet. These include: Under the hood; remove the pop-on/pop-off plastic engine cover that almost all new car engines have on top; if the underside shows mud or anything that suggests water, move on; be suspicious if a new/not-old car has had its sound-deadening removed. Pat the carpet, especially underneath the seats; feel for wetness.

Drive the car with the windows rolled up and the heat on. Do this on a dry day. If you see fog forming by the air vents, it's another "Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!" warning. You will probably smell funk, too.

Check all dash warning lights. They should all come on briefly when the ignition is first turned on, then turn off after a few moments. If some - especially the "check engine" light -- don't come on, it's possible the bulb was pulled to make it appear that all is ok. Find out why the light isn't coming on.

Look closely at the instrument cluster for signs of mist/haze on the interior side of the clear plastic. Check all head and tail-light assemblies for the same thing. Sometimes, you'll see actual water floating around inside.

These are all inspections you can do - without tools or special knowledge.

It's also always a good idea to get the car looked over by someone who does have specialized knowledge and tools. A professional mechanic you trust - who works for you, not the dealership where you're thinking about buying the car.


To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at His new book, Don't Get Taken for a Ride! will be available soon.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


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