Juntikka Consumer Alert: Car Shopping? Free Websites Spot Flood Damaged Cars Before You Buy Them

Watch Out For Car Dealers That Are Selling Water Damaged Cars

Unscrupulous car dealers are selling flood damaged cars to unsuspecting consumers by covering up the tell-tale signs of water damage.   If you know anyone buying a used car, warn them.   Let them know about: (1) the websites that identify these cars; and (2) the tips below on how to spot water damage.

I was alerted to this problem by a story in last Friday’s New York Times:

HEAVY rains and flooding this spring have soaked thousands of cars — and that means used-car shoppers should be on alert for vehicles that could be hiding serious water damage.

In Texas, for instance, some 7,000 to 10,000 insured cars suffered water damage as of early June, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an industry-funded anti-fraud group.

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

“These cars,” said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, “are really bad news.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/20/your-money/auto-insurance/car-shopping-how-to-identify-flood-damage-before-buying.html

 

How To Spot Flood Damaged Cars

Solution #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

Solution #2: Tips On How You Can Inspect A Car For Water Damage

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

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.

Solution #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 the consumer experts in the New York Times story.

I hope you are finding these consumer alerts to be 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.