Used Car Buyers Beware Warning from Carfax
In an ideal world, used car buyers should not have to worry about hidden flood damage in a used car that they are considering buying. In some states there are protection laws requiring “salvage titles” that inform a potential buyer that a vehicle has been previously totaled due to a flood, but has been repaired and passed an inspection process.
In the real world, however, “title washing” occurs where, “…cars that have been totaled (or stolen) get clean new titles in states with lax regulations,” states CR analysts. Furthermore, depending on the state where the flood damage occurred and the actual ownership of the vehicle, not all flood damaged vehicles qualify as “totaled” nor are they always reported as having been flood damaged during any vehicle disclosure before buying.
As such, Consumer Reports and more-recently Carfax, have issued press release warnings about the problem and share the recommendation that consumers can protect themselves by checking on a vehicle’s history using Carfax’s free resources for car buyers to help detect a waterlogged history before they make a purchase and/or by accessing the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System online to do a background check on a vehicle.
How Many Cars Are We Talking About…and Where?
The number of potentially affected cars is remarkable. Carfax posted a recent news release yesterday following Hurricane Ian stating that “…the widespread flooding across Florida and the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Ian potentially damaged as many as 358,000 vehicles. That number is on top of the 400,000 water-damaged cars that CARFAX data shows were already on the road in 2022---before Hurricane Ian first made landfall.”
In the newsletter they identified these states as the top 10 known offenders of selling the most flood damaged cars ranked in order with the worst closer to top of their listing:
#1. Texas with 67,000 vehicles
#2. Florida with 33,500 vehicles
#.3 Kentucky with 26,000 vehicles
#4. Pennsylvania with 21,500 vehicles
#5. New Jersey with 18,800 vehicles
#6. North Carolina with 15,600 vehicles
#7. New York with 14,600 vehicles
#8. California with 14,200 vehicles
#9. Illinois with 13,300 vehicles
#10. Michigan with 11,400 vehicles
Compared to last year, Carfax reports that “Following the devastation of hurricane Ida last year, New Jersey and New York saw the largest year-over-year percent increases out of all the states, with 68% and 48% respectively.”
How to Protect Yourself from Flood Damaged Car Scams
To protect yourself from flood damaged car scams, here are some informative articles that will give you the knowledge you need to know to thwart scammers trying to sell a non-disclosed flood damaged used car:
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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