So the rains in Texas are over for now. In Houston, many of my friends are dealing with the after effects of flooding. Though none of my close friends lost their cars, a few had water damage.
One Houston radio program – Car Pro on KPRH- I happened to catch was talking about the downside of this: The recycling of flooded out cars onto the used car market by unscrupulous dealers. It has happened before. It will happen again.
What will appear to be a good deal could cost you tears down the road when the water induced defects kick in. While the cars will initially have ‘salvage’ on the title, they will be bought via auctions but taken to different states where their paperwork will be ‘title washed’.
According to vehicle history report provider Carfax, it’s not uncommon for 50 percent of the cars affected by floods to return to service, some requiring only minor repairs, others a full overhaul.
The most severely damaged vehicles, those declared salvaged by their insurance carriers, can put used car shoppers at risk, as less reputable dealers, and some private sellers, try to sell them without full disclosure, or through outright fraud.
These cars are typically unloaded at auctions to be used for parts, or exported to countries with lower safety standards than the U.S. They can, however, be repaired and issued clearly marked “salvage” titles that must remain with them for the rest of their operational lives.
That is, of course, if the parties involved have gone through the proper channels. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB,) it’s not uncommon for shady operators to go to states with less restrictive regulations governing vehicle registrations to score clean titles for their dirty cars, then return to sell them to unsuspecting customers. This practice is called “title washing”.
Anyhow I recommend y’all read Car Pro article – Buyer Beware: How To Steer Clear Of Flood-Damaged Cars and if you are in the market for a used car, be aware of this scam. If your spider senses are telling you a good deal on a low mileage car is too good to be true, it is likely not be. Get that Carfax on the VIN. It may cost a nominal amount, but will save you with peace of mind.