Natural Disaster

Here's How To Avoid Getting Screwed On A Hurricane-Damaged Car

Lots of these cars will be flooding the market, here's how to avoid them.

With the extreme damage that was caused by Hurricane Harvey, it's estimated that around half of the flood damaged cars will be sold by shady dealers without a flood title. That is a massive 250,000 potential vehicles that consumers need to be aware of. These can be ordinary models like Toyotas and Fords, or even exotic models like a Ferrari 458. Luckily, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has a few tips to help people avoid these damaged cars that have all been shared by Car And Driver.

The NICB says that over 422,000 insured vehicles have been parked in salvage locations as a result of Hurricane Harvey. For comparison, only around 300,000 vehicles were damaged during Hurricane Katrina. Another 215,000 cars were damaged during Hurricane Irma. “Flooded vehicles have finally stopped arriving at the Royal Purple Raceway east of Houston,” the NICB said in a release. At this one location alone there are 23,000 cars and trucks sitting, waiting to be processed and rebranded with a salvage title. These vehicles will either be sold at auction for parts, or crushed and sold for scrap.

The NICB recommends using their VINCheck database, which can tell consumers whether a car has been damaged or branded as a salvage title. Consumers can also check out the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. The biggest risk comes in the form of the uninsured cars. Around 15% of Texans drive without insurance and “many flooded vehicles that weren’t insured will be cleaned up and sold with no indication of any damage.” This is where it is extremely important to pay attention to the car you are buying. There are a few basic checks that can be performed that should help you find out if a car has flood damage.

First, check the vehicle’s carpeting for water damage and look for rust on screws or bolts that typically wouldn’t get wet. Also, look out for water stains on seatbelts or other interior pieces. It is also important to check under the spare tire and look for mud or other signs of earthy residue in the engine bay. Foggy interior lights or the smell of mold are also good indications that a car has been underwater. It is extremely important to avoid these flood damaged cars, because they can have serious problems down the line.

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