Hurricane Ian flooded many cars. don’t buy one of them

  • The main damage from Hurricane Ian was to people in Florida and the Carolinas, but an unknown number of cars were also flooded in the massive storm last weekend.
  • If you’re going to buy a used car in the next few months, you don’t want to get a flooded vehicle, especially not knowing that the car once went in for a swim.
  • Here are four steps to take if you suspect the car you’re buying may have been involved in a flood.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida last weekend, leaving behind at least 100 deaths and millions in property damage. Before fading away, Ian dropped more water over North Carolina and South Carolina. We still don’t know how many vehicles were wrecked in the storm, but at least one McLaren P1 got carried away by the rising waters. For comparison, when Hurricane Ida slammed into states from Louisiana to New York, it damaged an estimated 212,000 cars, according to Carfax.

Once the car has had a chance to dry off and go through a cleaning, the fact that it was submerged can be hard to tell. Teresa Murray, Consumer Supervisor at the US Public Interest Research Groupsaying car and driver There are many ways a savvy shopper can spot a previously flooded car. There are many more reasons why you don’t want to end up with a flooded vehicle, he said.

“You don’t want any part of a vehicle flooded, no matter if the damage is disclosed and no matter what warranties you get from the seller,” Murray said. “If you suspect a vehicle may have suffered flood damage, go ahead. Don’t be tempted to roll the dice. You’ll almost certainly buy a headache and just waste your money.”

hurricane ian hits the west coast of florida

Gerardo Mora|fake images

What if it’s your car that gets flooded?

Murray said there are a few ways owners deal with flooded cars. If they have insurance and the vehicle is more than 75 percent wrecked, the insurance company will take possession and reimburse the owner. These cars could end up on the used car market, but they will come with a salvage title red flag. Uninsured owners may try to sell their flooded rides if the water did not render the vehicle undrivable, and it is up to these owners to reveal what happened to the car. Some will and some won’t. Even if sellers tell prospective buyers that the vehicle briefly served as a boat, the full extent of the damage might not be apparent, which brings us to the caveat emptor part of the story.

Steps to Spot a Water Damaged Car

courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission and the PIRG, here are some things to look for if you suspect you are looking at a previously flooded vehicle:

  • Look for visual clues. These may not be obvious at first glance, so check under the seats and dash for mud or sand. Carpet may be loose, stained, or uneven. Is there moisture in the headlights? Are many components too new for the car? Rust around the doors, especially near fasteners like screws, could indicate the car spent time under water.
  • Use your nose. Any hint of mold or decay in the cabin or trunk area is a red flag, and a strong odor of cleaning products could be trying to cover something up.
  • Do some research. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) offers a search database of vehicle identification numbers (VINs) that could result in a salvage title even if the seller is not forthright about the car’s past, as long as the car was insured when the damage occurred. He checks to see if the vehicle was registered in Florida or the Carolinas until recently. The federal government also operates the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), which provides free historical information on a vehicle. NMVTIS offers more detailed information, including accident and repair history, for a fee.
  • Ask for help. If you’re not sure but really want the car, have it checked out by an independent mechanic. A mechanic might find signs of water damage to the powertrain or electrical systems that you don’t see.

Finally, be a good citizen and report fraud. The NICB, FTC, and state attorneys general welcome tips about shady characters selling flood-damaged vehicles without revealing what happened.

This content is imported from the survey. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may find more information on their website.

This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may find more information on their website.

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