The recent floods in and around the Atlanta area were of historic proportions. Homes were destroyed, crops ruined and vehicles swept away. Thankfully, casualties were kept to a minimum, but the rebuilding process is likely to take many months to complete.
Flood Damaged Cars
Sound familiar? It should. Over the past several years devastation has taken its toll on communities from Texas to the Carolinas as hurricane and tropical storm activity rendered many areas uninhabitable for days, weeks, even months. As recovery began in these areas, a number of housing scams came to light as did one involving automobiles – flood-damaged vehicles which were declared destroyed, but “repaired” and retitled and sold to unsuspecting buyers.
CarMax, which is the largest supplier of used cars in the country, has been warning about “Katrina Cars” and other damaged vehicles for several years. Most recently, CarMax issued a news release detailing the problem and telling potential buyers what to look for.
Signs of Damage
“Consumers should be aware that some businesses and individuals may try to sell salvaged and flood-damaged cars without revealing the vehicle history,” said Jason Day, Atlanta region vice president of purchasing for CarMax. “Flood-damaged cars that are not structurally or mechanically sound could be repaired, re-titled, and sold to unsuspecting buyers.”
CarMax’s purchasing team offers these ten tips for identifying a vehicle with possible flood damage. If any of these signs are identified, ask further questions to determine if flood damage occurred:
- Check for a moldy smell inside the car and feel the carpet for dampness
- Be suspicious of an older car with a brand new interior or carpeting
- Check for rust under the brake or gas pedals
- Look for dirt or rust under the dashboard and floor mats
- Inspect the bolts and screws under the seats for evidence of rust
- Check the undercarriage for excessive rust
- Check inside the trunk under the carpet and in the spare tire well area for rust, dirt or sand
- Look for corrosion, water marks, or a thin brown line on the exterior of the vehicle
- Check to see if the electrical system works
- Check the VIN number with AutoCheck or Carfax to see whether a flood claim has been filed or a salvage title has been issued on the vehicle
Free History Report
For their part, CarMax provides a free AutoCheck vehicle history report for every used vehicle. The company’s countrywide team of more than 800 car purchasers has been trained to observe whether a car has flood damage or has been in a major mishap. CarMax has a policy in place where they will not sell any car that has flood or frame damage or an odometer or title discrepancy.
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