Be On The Look Out For Storm Ravaged Vehicles
In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, tens of thousands of cars were scrapped, damaged beyond repair by flood waters, wind damaged, or received other storm-related insults. Some reports put that number at 250,000 vehicles, cars registered to owners in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and adjoining states.
Flood-Damaged Cars Retitled
Though most of these vehicles were hauled away and its titles changed to reflect that they had been totaled, in some cases cars were bought, retitled in other states, and put on the market. Unsuspecting buyers, thinking that they were getting a quality used car, eventually learned that they were storm-ravaged, thanks to rusting body panels, foul odors, malfunctioning components, and a host of other ills.
It has been several years since America was ravaged by these storms, but the warning about flood-damaged cars remains in place. Historic flooding in the Upper Midwest in 2008 and in the South in 2010 is yielding a bumper crop of damaged vehicles, with the same post-Katrina scenario starting to rear its ugly head: cars that have been totaled by insurers and are back on the market, available for purchase.
How To Avoid The Scam
Car buyers should be alert to this scam in order to avoid being ripped off. There are several tools at your disposal to help you avoid being conned, three of which can save you from plenty of grief:
Check KBB – Kelley Blue Book at www.kbb.com has the price of thousands of different used car models going back for well over a decade. One thing about flood-damaged cars is that they are often priced below market levels. This should be a concern to you as a quality used car should retail close to what KBB says it is worth.
Check Carfax – Carfax is a great way to check your car’s history as all fifty states send their flood damage information to the company. You can find that information at www.carfax.com/flood and can order individual reports for a specific car too.
Check With Your Mechanic – Always insist on an inspection of the car from your own mechanic. He’ll know what to look for, especially signs for water damage, engine wear, transmission problems, brake and exhaust problems, as well as electrical and engineering issues.
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True….
With any used car purchase the maxim, “if it is sounds too good to be true, then it isn’t,” is the best approach when buying any car. Certainly, you want to get the best price for a used car, but not at the expense of your wallet or safety. Flood-damaged cars have a short lifespan and could put you and your family in harm’s way if an important part suddenly fails.
See Also — How to Check for Flood-Damaged Cars