Back in September, thousands of cars were damaged by Hurricane Ida. It’s a good bet that some of them have made their way here to the Midwest, now available for resale. Those ruined cars are typically sold at salvage auctions to junkyards and vehicle rebuilders. Yet on occasions, they have shown up in dealer car lots. Reselling them to consumers may be legal if the title discloses the flood damage.
Tully Lehman, public affairs manager for the National Insurance Crime Bureau stated, “Unfortunately, following major hurricanes or flooding evets, we see fraudsters try to scam consumers by selling cars damaged in the flooding.” To make matters worse, the potential for fraud is even higher this year due to the shortage of microchips slowing production of new vehicles. This creates a prime opportunity for scammers to take advantage of buyers’ interest.
According to ConsumerReports, flood damaged vehicles can have a serious impact on a vehicles electronics, lubricants, and mechanical system. Most times it’s a slow progression as corrosion eventually grows into the vehicle’s electronics. Services like Carfax or the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck allows you to input a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), to identify any red flags in the vehicle’s history.
When buying a used car, check for the following before you sign on the dotted line:
- A strong sent of air-freshener that might be used to cover a musty odor in the interior
- Loose upholstery or carpeting that may not match the rest of the interior
- Rust around doors, under the dashboard or inside the hood and trunk latches
- Silt in the corners of the glove compartment or under seats.
Always test drive the car and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic.