Flood-damaged vehicles may attain the market. How one can keep away from shopping for one
Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Pictures
As storm-ravaged areas take inventory of the destruction left by Hurricane Ida, 1000’s of flooded vehicles are anticipated to be among the many private property that was ruined. Whereas vehicles with flood injury might have titles that point out that, the system will not be foolproof — which implies a few of these autos are more likely to be bought by unknowing consumers.
“Sadly, following main hurricanes or flooding occasions, we see fraudsters attempt to rip-off customers by promoting vehicles broken within the flooding,” mentioned Tully Lehman, public affairs supervisor for the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau.
Compounding the potential for fraud this time round is the excessive demand for used vehicles as the worldwide scarcity of microchips continues slowing manufacturing of latest autos. That demand may create a possibility for scammers to reap the benefits of consumers’ eagerness to seal a deal, specialists mentioned.
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Ida slammed into Louisiana on Aug. 29 after which moved inland, ultimately crossing over the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The storm left a path of devastation in its wake from lethal flooding, excessive winds, storm surge and tornadoes. That was on the heels of two different giant storms that dumped torrential downpours within the Southeast and Northeast.
Roughly 378,000 flood-damaged vehicles already had been on the roads earlier than Ida hit, in response to Carfax spokesman Chris Basso.
“If historical past holds true, we’re a number of thousand extra [flooded] autos, and an honest share of them will make it again into the market,” Basso mentioned.
Floodwaters can destroy — generally slowly — electronics, lubricants, and mechanical methods in autos. Corrosion can ultimately discover its strategy to the automotive’s very important electronics, together with airbag controllers, in response to ConsumerReports.
By means of companies like Carfax or the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau’s VINCheck, you possibly can enter a automotive‘s car identification quantity, or VIN, to see if there’s something in its historical past that is a crimson flag. Nevertheless, it’s possible you’ll not have the ability to discover out all the things.
Mainly, when an insurance coverage firm receives a declare for a flooded automotive and the car is totaled — that means the repairs would price greater than the automotive‘s value — the automotive’s title typically is modified to replicate its standing.
These ruined vehicles are sometimes bought at salvage auctions to junkyards and car rebuilders, in response to ConsumerReports. Reselling them to customers could also be authorized if the title discloses the flood injury.
Nevertheless, not all automotive homeowners file an insurance coverage declare. If they do not have complete protection — the a part of automotive insurance coverage that flooding would fall beneath — they’re typically out of luck. Which means that with no insurance coverage firm involvement, the flood injury might not find yourself formally recorded anyplace.
“Sadly, there might be people who, on account of not having insurance coverage protection for flood injury, will try to scrub their automotive and attempt to promote it to unsuspecting consumers sooner or later in time down the highway,” Lehman mentioned.
And, there are some sellers that can clear up flooded vehicles and promote them, whether or not regionally or in one other state the place titling guidelines are much less stringent.
“This makes testing vehicles intently, even on tons, very important,” Lehman mentioned.
There are issues you possibly can search for in a used car for that might counsel flood injury, in response to Carfax:
- A musty odor within the inside, which sellers generally attempt to cowl with a powerful air-freshener;
- Upholstery or carpeting which may be free, new or stained or does not appear to match the remainder of the inside;
- Damp carpets;
- Rust round doorways, beneath the dashboard, on the pedals or contained in the hood and trunk latches;
- Mud or silt within the glove compartment or beneath the seats;
- Brittle wires beneath the dashboard;
- Fog or moisture beads within the inside lights, exterior lights or instrument panel.
You additionally ought to check drive the automotive and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic.
“And keep in mind, if the value appears too good to be true, it probably is,” Lehman mentioned. “Belief your instincts and when you have a nasty feeling, go elsewhere.”