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Look out for flood-damaged vehicles when buying a used car

18 Sep 17
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They say public speaking is most people’s biggest fear. Right then must be purchasing a used car. It can be a harrowing trip. The old stereotypes are ever-present. Predatory curbside salespeople peddling poor item. Unsuspecting buyers whose fantasy cars become lemons seconds when they leave the lot. Unusual mark-ups, undetected damage, trouble with the name — all of these are pitfalls that unwary drivers can fall into.

Now there’s another factor to consider: flood damage.

Hurricane Harvey has done its worst, causing carnage and suffering. The automotive side into the catastrophe is an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 flood-damaged vehicles will be write-offs, according Solera Holdings Inc., a data firm based in Westlake, Texas. There have already been 100,000 claims for automobile flood damage. It is a heavy hit to get a town in which 94 percent of the adult population drives.

Most flood-damaged vehicles are deemed total losses by insurers. Sustained water damage causes rust and destroys electrical and computer systems. It may warp brakes and rotors and result in airbag malfunction. Flood damage can corrode the exhaust system and can lead to transmission failure. The “car plus flood equals bad news” list is endless.

Once a vehicle is deemed ruined, it’s delivered to a salvage yard so any undamaged parts can be re-purposed.

Needless to say, where there is calamity, there is criminal opportunity. Flood fraudsters do not waste time. The moment soggy vehicles could be dried out, they are sent off to other areas of the country and sold — with nary a mention of the nautical past — what was called “suckers.” According to the automobile history database firm Carfax, 271,404 flood-damaged automobiles were on American streets in 2016. Guess which state had the most? Texas, with 43,000. Car grifters conceal any information connected to a vehicle’s watery past. They participate in “title washing” by erasing an automobile’s history or by leaving some lingering details off the sheet.

Between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, the sector is likely to have “flooded” with much more watery automobiles. It is possible that some of the lemons will end up in Canada. After all, flood-damaged cars made their way here after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

So, what can a consumer do?

Proceed to a reputable used car dealer. Established traders play the long game. They want happy customers who return, not fleeced marks that hold a grudge. Someone who’s passing off flood-damaged automobiles is going for the quick kill. They are going to pressure you to get fast. There’ll be a few hyped-up narrative describing why the car is really affordable. If you do not act now you will lose it. There might be the inference of the trade being somewhat less than legit (no taxation, cash only). The best way to guarantee a mark will not go to the police is to have them participate in criminal behaviour.

Inspect the vehicle. Start looking for mold and mildew. Despite the best attempts of fraudsters, flood-damaged cars frequently smell like the bottom of a pond that is rancid. Check under the mats, under the vehicle, start looking for moisture from the headlights and from the tool panel. Feel for damp spots and look for water stains. Definitely, the most reliable way is to look at its history. Use a vehicle history company to discover if the car was in any heavy water. You will find detailed advice on the best way best to prevent flood-damaged vehicles online.

When in doubt, bear in mind the adage, “If a deal on a used car is too good to be true, it probably spent weekly submerged in water{}”

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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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