Car shops give tips on how to avoid accidentally buying a flood-damaged vehicle

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, hundreds of thousand of vehicles were flooded and destroyed in Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Now, some of those car owners are allegedly trying to sell them, but not disclosing that they received any damage.

AAA says insurance companies usually total flood damaged vehicles which and then sold for parts, but some of the cars end up staying on the market for many months after the storm.

Car shops here in the east like Greenville Nissan say following hurricanes, some people try to sell those damaged cars to unknowing customers.

“Oh yeah definitely in the past that has happened,” General Sales Manager Matt Murchison said.

Murchison says there are some things consumers should look out for when purchasing from sellers in the states affected.

“Smell is the biggest indicator, usually they are trying to cover up a smell or there is a must there that is very distinctive,” Murchison said. “You can see carpet damage, typically sometimes people will try to recondition that as much as possible and have carpet cleaners, but you can always tell by the smell or something like that. Check sensors, check windows, if they have power windows, power locks, things of that nature.”

Colby Pugh with Pugh’s Tire & Service Centers adds that the type of water doesn’t matter.

“Salt water obviously can cause more rust, but any kind of water damage is bad,” General Manager Colby Pugh said. “Every car has got all kinds of electronic modules on there so it is dangerous because if they get any kind of water damage, they can go out or start periodically having episodes.”

Buyers’ best bet is to bring a certified mechanic with them when meeting the seller or bring the car in question to a shop in town for a test drive to make sure it’s safe.

“Just be thorough before you purchase a vehicle, if you are looking to buy a new vehicle, or pre-owned vehicle,” Murchison said. “Do your research beforehand. Check the history of the vehicle, it’s very accessible.”

In addition to checking the cars history and auto check, they say one of the quickest and easiest things to do is get a carfax. 

It should say if the car is a salvaged title or not or if it’s a flood vehicle.

They also add it’s required in the state of North Carolina to disclose that information on the disclosure statement on the DMV

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