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Flood damaged cars enter used car market, consumer group warns


Thousands of cars and trucks have been damaged by major flooding this year and that makes it even more important for today’s used car buyers to consider potential purchases, consumer groups warn.

Anyone who kicks the tires of a used car for sale must scan the vehicle inside and out for flood damage, the Interest Research Group said Thursday. American audience. If you’re serious about a car, sniff the interior for the smell of mold, look for moisture build-up in the headlights, and even have the vehicle professionally inspected before making a deal, the group said.

It is imperative that you examine the car yourself and not just trust the seller, as “some people might not be honest about it,” Jacob van Cleef, a car watch agent, told CBS MoneyWatch. consumers at US PIRG.

Are more flood damaged used cars sold this year? US PIRG said it did not have data to confirm this. Still, the organization said it is now warning customers that several trends are moving in this direction.


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First, the global semiconductor shortage that is forcing Ford, GM and other automakers to deploy fewer new cars, which is pushing more and more buyers into the used car market.

Second, there is an increase in flooding across the country. Many cities that historically have not experienced major flooding, such as Philadelphia and Detroit metro, found themselves underwater at one point this year. More flooded communities means more damaged vehicles that sellers can try to take advantage of, van Cleef said.

This year’s major flooding in Louisiana and California caused more than $ 1 billion in damage each. And Hurricane Ida caused between $ 16 billion and $ 24 billion in flood losses, real estate data provider CoreLogic estimates. In this extent of damage, Carfax estimates that more than 210,000 vehicles were damaged by Ida’s floodwaters.

Last month, the National Insurance Crime Bureau also warned customers about flood damaged cars and how these vehicles often end up in the market.

“Dishonest dealers and others can buy flooded vehicles, dry and clean them, and sell them to unsuspecting buyers as used vehicles,” the Illinois nonprofit said. in a press release. “A lot of these vehicles come onto the market after natural disasters.”


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The NICB and US PIRG have given other tips for identifying a flood damaged car, such as performing a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check using VIN verification tools such as those made available by the NICB and Carfax.

Other tips include what to look for when inspecting a used car in person:

  • Lift the rugs and look for sand or water spots.
  • Look for rusty metal on screws and other mechanical connections.
  • Test the car and feel how it accelerates and brakes.

Used cars are a popular option for customers looking for an inexpensive, yet reliable vehicle. There were approximately 41 million used cars sold in the United States in 2019, according to the latest data available from the United States Department of Transportation. This figure includes cars sold through a dealership and from private sellers.

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