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Hurricane Ian broken 358,000 autos. Tips on how to keep away from shopping for one among them

Autos float within the water on Sept. 29 in Bonita Springs, Florida, after Hurricane Ian.

Sean Rayford | Getty Photographs

In the event you’re planning to buy a used automobile within the subsequent few months, you’ll want to verify for flood injury earlier than signing on the dotted line.

Within the wake of widespread flooding throughout Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina final month as a result of Hurricane Ian, automobile historical past report web site Carfax now estimates that as much as 358,000 autos have been broken by flood waters. A few of these autos will find yourself being resold — already, 400,000 vehicles on the highway are water-damaged from previous flooding occasions.

“Flood waters trigger all types of hidden injury, which might floor months later,” mentioned Teresa Murray, shopper watchdog with the U.S. Public Curiosity Analysis Group Training Fund. 

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“You don’t need something to do with a flooded automobile, regardless of whether or not the injury is disclosed and it doesn’t matter what assurances you get from a vendor,” Murray mentioned.

Flooded vehicles are ‘rotting from the within out’

Floodwaters can destroy — typically slowly — electronics, lubricants and mechanical methods in vehicles. Corrosion can ultimately discover its option to the automobile’s very important electronics, together with airbag controllers.

“The underside line on these flood-damaged autos is they’re actually rotting from the within out,” mentioned Emilie Voss, spokesperson for Carfax.

“They may look tremendous cosmetically, however there might be mechanical, electrical, security, and well being points that can present up down the highway,” Voss mentioned.

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Patrons ought to all the time verify a used automobile’s automobile historical past report to ensure they know what they’re shopping for, no matter when or the place they make the acquisition. Flooded vehicles usually find yourself on the market in locations removed from the place they initially have been broken.

By means of companies like Carfax or the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau’s VINCheck, you’ll be able to enter a automobile’s automobile identification quantity, or VIN, to see if there’s something in its historical past that is a purple flag. Nonetheless, chances are you’ll not be capable to discover out every part. 

Not all titles will replicate flood injury

That is as a result of not all flooded vehicles are recorded as such except an insurance company is concerned. When an insurer receives a declare and the automobile is totaled — which means the repairs would price greater than the automobile’s value — the automobile’s title typically is modified to replicate its standing.

These ruined vehicles are usually offered at salvage auctions to junkyards and automobile rebuilders. Reselling them to customers could also be authorized if the title discloses the flood injury.

However not all automobile house owners file an insurance coverage declare. If they do not have complete protection — the a part of automobile insurance coverage that flooding would fall beneath — they’re typically out of luck in terms of protection. Which means with no insurance coverage firm involvement, the flood injury might not find yourself formally recorded anyplace.

“In the event you suspect a automobile might have sustained flood injury, transfer on,” Murray mentioned.

There are issues you’ll be able to search for in a used automobile for that might counsel flood injury, in line with Carfax:

  • A musty odor within the inside, which sellers typically attempt to cowl with a robust air-freshener
  • Upholstery or carpeting that could be free, new, stained or that does not match the remainder of the inside
  • Damp carpets
  • Rust round doorways, beneath the dashboard, on the pedals or contained in the hood and trunk latches
  • Mud or silt within the glove compartment or beneath the seats
  • Brittle wires beneath the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads within the inside lights, exterior lights or instrument panel

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