Hurricane Ian damaged 358,000 vehicles. How to avoid buying one

Cars float in the h2o on Sept. 29 in Bonita Springs, Florida, soon after Hurricane Ian.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

If you’re planning to store for a used auto in the following couple of months, be certain to check out for flood injury prior to signing on the dotted line.

In the wake of popular flooding across Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina last thirty day period owing to Hurricane Ian, auto history report internet site Carfax now estimates that up to 358,000 autos were destroyed by floodwaters. Some of these automobiles will conclusion up remaining resold, as an believed 400,000 drinking water-weakened automobiles are presently on the highway from previous flooding events.

“Floodwaters induce all kinds of hidden destruction, which can surface area months later,” said Teresa Murray, client watchdog with the U.S. Public Fascination Exploration Group Education and learning Fund. 

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“You will not want just about anything to do with a flooded vehicle, no matter whether or not the injury is disclosed and no make a difference what assurances you get from a seller,” Murray stated.

Flooded cars are ‘rotting from the within out’

Floodwaters can wipe out — in some cases bit by bit — electronics, lubricants and mechanical systems in vehicles. Corrosion can ultimately find its way to the car’s essential electronics, like airbag controllers.

“The bottom line on these flood-destroyed motor vehicles is they are actually rotting from the inside out,” explained Emilie Voss, spokesperson for Carfax.

“They may possibly seem fantastic cosmetically, but there can be mechanical, electrical, protection and overall health problems that will clearly show up down the street,” Voss said.

Customers should exploration a applied car’s car or truck historical past report to make positive they know what they are shopping for, no matter of when or where they make the purchase, for the reason that flooded autos usually close up for sale in areas significantly from where they initially have been destroyed.

By services like Carfax or the Countrywide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau’s VINCheck, you can enter a car’s car identification range, or VIN, and see if you will find nearly anything in its history that’s a purple flag. Even so, people endeavours by itself may perhaps not be conclusive. 

Not all titles will replicate flood hurt

Which is for the reason that not all flooded autos are recorded as such except an insurance plan enterprise is concerned. When an insurer gets a declare and the automobile is totaled — that means the repairs would value far more than the car’s value — the car’s title frequently is transformed to mirror its status.

Those ruined vehicles are typically offered at salvage auctions to junkyards and car or truck rebuilders. Reselling them to customers can get on the suitable facet of the regulation if the title discloses the flood damage.

But not all vehicle owners file an insurance plan assert. If they will not have in depth coverage — the aspect of car or truck insurance policy that flooding would fall under — they’re frequently out of luck when it comes to coverage. So, with no insurance policy business involvement there might not be any official file of the flood problems.

“If you suspect a vehicle could have sustained flood injury, transfer on,” Murray stated.

There are things you can look for in a utilized motor vehicle for that could propose flood harm, in accordance to Carfax:

  • A musty odor in the inside, which sellers from time to time consider to go over with a robust air-freshener
  • Upholstery or carpeting that might be free, new, stained or that will not match the relaxation of the inside
  • Moist carpets
  • Rust about doorways, below the dashboard, on the pedals or within the hood and trunk latches
  • Mud or silt in the glove compartment or underneath the seats
  • Brittle wires beneath the dashboard
  • Fog or moisture beads in the interior lights, exterior lights or instrument panel.