Flooded cars not safe after a hurricane
Hurricane Harvey flooded between 500,000 and 1 million cars in the Houston area. Nineteen trillion gallons of water fell on southeast Texas and “another 5.5 trillion gallons” fell on Louisiana. Irma flooded thousands of cars in Florida and released millions of gallons of sewage that contaminated the carsm, making them a particular health hazard for used car buyers.
Water takes a terrific toll on cars
The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) says “There is no recommended method or procedure to restore submerged vehicles from flooded-affected areas to pre-accident condition.” CCAR’s members represent all segments of the auto service and repair industry. It worries that “…hundreds of thousands of flood-damaged vehicles will inundate the nation’s used-car market, and buyers might not be told” they’re damaged.
“Water damage is unpredictable.” According to MarketWatch, flood damaged cars can turn into death traps. MarketWatch calls them “time bombs.” Corrosion will eventually damage the cars’ electronic, lubricant and mechanical systems. The car may seem okay but “…sooner or later the car is going to die and the last thing you want is for that to happen while you are driving.” Consumer Reports says totaled cars are usually sold “at a salvage auction to junkyards and vehicle rebuilders.” Scammers buy them, take them to a state with “relatively lax titling laws” and get a clean title without disclosing the car was flooded. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, anyone who tries to hide flood damage “is committing fraud.”
How to spot a flood damaged car
Flood damaged cars have telltale physical signs: a musty odor, new carpet in an old car, a water line on the headlights, mud in hard to clean spaces like gaps in the trunk or under the hood, rusty screws under the dashboard and rubber plugs under doors to drain flood water.
Used cars with low prices were probably flooded. Damage reappears quickly so scammers sell them as fast as possible to buyers looking for a bargain. The New York Times cautions says the best protection is a title check with Carfax or VIN check to see if cars are marked “salvage or beyond repairable.” But it warns that states’ different definitions of “salvage” can lead to “title washing.” The federal Anti-Car Theft Act says title data has to be reported to the federal government before a new title is issued, but only 38 states are in full compliance with that law.
Call Wayne Wright if you end up with a flood damaged car
Calls and evaluations are free. Clients pay nothing unless their case is won. But Wayne Wright is one of America’s top trial lawyers. His legal awards demonstrate his ability to help victims of scammers. He belongs to the Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Membership is limited to lawyers who have won top dollar awards for clients.