Avoid buying a flood damaged car
Many Floridians are looking to replace their flood damaged cars, but buyer beware. Hundreds of thousands of cars are estimated damaged by recent hurricanes. Carfax estimates that as many as half of flood damaged cars eventually return to the market.
“Instead of landing in the scrap yard, they are dried out, cleaned up and put back on the market, reports Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent auto insurance company.
In fact, flood-damaged cars can be resold in Florida. State law requires the title to be branded as flood damaged. Unfortunately, not all states require title branding to protect consumers. The Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reports flood damaged cars from states without flood branding requirements can be resold in Florida with clean titles. Although, Edmunds reports, “A vehicle history report should reveal any branding for flood damage, even if someone has washed the vehicle’s title by moving it through states with differing regulations.”
Keep in mind, cars without flood insurance never receive an inspection, therefore no brand is added to the title. “Savvy buyers could find deals but are also taking a risk. Be suspicious if the deal seems too good, warns Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent auto insurance agency.
How to spot a flood damaged car
Check the vehicle’s history- Consumers should take precautions such as getting a history of repairs and checking the VIN number with Carfax, the National Insurance Crime Bureau or National Motor Vehicle Title Information System databases.
Be alert to strange odors- a mold or mildew smell or the strong smell of a cleaning solution or air freshener to mask damage.
Look for stains, mineral deposits or discolored carpet.
Check out door panels to make sure they are not warped.
Inspect for dried mud under the dashboard or where the spare tire is kept.
Examine the exterior for water build-up-such as fogged up headlamps or taillights.
Flood damaged cars are usually sold by private sellers or independent used car dealerships, stick with a reputable car dealership in your area. Shady sellers will go to great lengths to turn a profit on a defective vehicle.