If you’re in the market for a used car, now more than ever is the time for the buyer to beware. Cars that were damaged from flooding during natural disasters are being sold nationwide at an alarming rate.
Category four hurricane hit the west coast of Florida with torrential rain. It also flooded the used car market.
In fact, Carfax estimates there are at least half a million cars that were damaged by flooding from these natural disasters, and many of them are being sold as undamaged in another state.
When a car is moved out of the state where the damage occurred, the title gets “washed,” and therefore removes all evidence of flood or a reconstructed title. The car with a “clean” title was then shipped to other states and sold to unsuspecting buyers.
“The telltale signs of a car being damaged by a hurricane is usually very basic flood damage. You know, if there’s widespread staining on the floor that creeps up to a certain level and if there’s any electronics that don’t work and they seem somewhat sporadic. So, let’s say that your driver’s side window doesn’t work, but also your rear passenger locking mechanism on the door doesn’t work,” said Evan Noriega Thomas, Social Media Expert.
These vehicles pose a serious safety threat to drivers and passengers because flood damage causes non-functioning airbags, engines, brakes and electrical system damage. Agencies like Autocheck or the National Insurance Crime Bureau provide a free “storm damage scan” for consumers to check cars before they buy them. By using the vin number, the service will tell you whether the car was reported as storm damaged or if the car was registered or titled within 12 months prior to a storm in counties affected by the recent disasters.
You can also protect yourself by insisting on a warranty or refusing to buy the car on an “as is” basis. If you have any concerns about the car or the answers the dealer gives you, trust your gut and walk away from the deal.