Buyers Warned of Flood-Damaged Autos

11-17-05 - The images of flood-ravaged vehicles from this hurricane season were vivid, but experts are warning buyers to beware of buying one of those cars on the open market.

After being totaled by insurance companies and then sold in auctions, around a half million cars could go from floods to a used car lot. But local dealers know what to look for.

That's why the Texas Automobile Dealers Association sent this letter to all their members, alerting them that as many as 700,000 vehicles damaged in the hurricanes could be back on the market.

Also included was the national insurance crime bureau's web site, where anyone can run the VIN number to make sure their vehicle hasn't been for a swim.

Ramey Chevrolet is another dealership that keeps damaged goods off the shelf but knows that somewhere, there's a salvage yard or a dealer that can get these cars looking as good as new. At that point, it's up to the buyer to make sure they know where their new car has been.

It is not illegal to sell a flood damaged vehicle, but it is a part of any deal involving a damaged car that a potential buyer be given notification. Likely, it will be in the title. But you also want to take your own steps. If a price seems like a bargain, check the electrical system. Also look for any rust and take a sniff for any moldy smell.