Beware Of Flood Damage When Buying Used Cars

It was predicted that this year’s big storms would result in as many as half a million flooded vehicles. The National Insurance Crime Bureau stated this week that nearly 270,000 insurance claims related to vehicle damage from Hurricane Harvey have been processed so far, and another 70,000 have been processed for Hurricane Irma. When insurance companies declare these claims as total losses, the vehicles go to a salvage auction company. Then, unscrupulous car dealers sometimes attempt to sell these flood damaged cars by covering up the tell-tale signs of water damage.

A car that has been even partly submerged is at risk for having damaged mechanical, electrical and computerized components that could make the vehicle unsafe to drive. But such damage can be insidious and take months or even years to appear.

If you know anyone buying a used car, warn them. The following are some tips on what you can do to avoid being misled into purchasing a water damaged vehicle:

Tip #1: Free Websites That Identify Water Damaged Cars

There are two websites that can help you identify most water damaged cars for free:

http://flood.carfax.com/
https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck/vincheck

Tip #2: How To Inspect A Car For Water Damage

Unfortunately, the websites can identify most flood damaged cars, but they are not always 100% accurate. If you know where to look, you can look for water damage yourself:

  1. Check for mud or grit in unusual places, like the spare-tire well.
  2. Condensation or water lines inside headlights can also indicate possible flood damage.
  3. Smell for mold or mildew.
  4. Smell for bleach or overpowering disinfectant, suggesting the seller is trying to cover up odors.

Tip #3: Hire A Professional For Inspection 

Some damage isn’t always easy for a layperson to spot so it may be best to have a mechanic inspect the car. This might end up being the “best $100 you ever spend,” according to experts.

We hope you are finding our consumer alerts useful. And, as always, if you know someone who is struggling with overdue debts, please have them call us for a bankruptcy consultation at 212-315-3755.