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.”
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.
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:
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.
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