It’s something that seems to repeat itself after every major flood … there are people who clean damaged cars and move them to another state to sell. In fact, there are some experts who estimate that half of the vehicles damaged by a flood routinely end up returning to the market.
Vehicle damage may go undetected until you have a better inspection or ask a mechanic to look at it. This is what you have to do:
- Look for water spots, moisture, mold, sand, or cracks under the carpet, floor mats, on the dash, and where the spare tire is kept. Check to see if the headlights or taillights are foggy or have any traces of moisture.
- Take a smell test. If you notice a strong smell from cleaning products or disinfectants, take it as a sign that someone is trying to hide a mold or other odor problem.
- Ask for the vehicle’s background report. Check the database of reliable services. There are reliable services that charge a small fee. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) maintains a free database that includes flood damage information and other data.
- Understand the difference between a “salvaged vehicle title” and a “flooded vehicle title.” If a car has a “salvaged vehicle title” it means that an insurance company declared the total loss of the vehicle due to a serious accident or other serious problems. If a car has a “flooded vehicle title” it means that it is damaged because floodwater covered the engine compartment. Title status is part of the vehicle’s background report. In any case, before buying a car it is always necessary to do an inspection and get the records, but with cars with salvaged vehicle titles and flooded vehicle titles you need to be more careful.
- Have your mechanic inspect mechanical and electrical components and systems that contain fluids for water contamination.
- Report the fraud. If you suspect that a car dealer is deliberately selling a storm-damaged car or salvage vehicle as a used car in good condition, contact your car insurance company, local law enforcement agency, or the NICB. by calling (800) TEL-NICB ( 800-835-6422 ). You will help prevent someone else from being scammed.