Millions of people in the United States have suffered property damage and loss, widespread power outages, and major flooding as a result of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. As recovery and restoration efforts begin, it is important for consumers to be aware of the safety impact of flooding on vehicles. Severe water damage can make vehicles’ electrical systems, including the airbag sensors, prone to failure. When a car’s electrical systems have been compromised, it may no longer be safe or roadworthy. After past hurricane events, truckloads of flooded vehicles were reportedly taken out of the affected ares to states far away where they were dried out, cleaned, and sold. Purchasers of those vehicles may not have known that the vehicles had endured a saltwater flood that damaged their electrical systems.
Five key indicators that offer information that can be associated with preventing vehicle-related fraud and theft include:
- Current state of title and last title date
- Brand history, a descriptive label assigned by states to indicate a vehicle’s current or prior state (e.g. ” junk”, “salvage”, “flood”)
- Odometer reading
- Total loss history
- Salvage history
If a vehicle has a brand, total loss, or salvage history, then the consumer is warned that the vehicle may be unsafe.
Shop smart. Make sure you obtain an independent vehicle inspection and have all the information about a vehicle before you buy.