ST LOUIS, MO (BBB) — While Hurricane Dorian has long since run its course, the effects of the latest natural disaster might linger and could impact you.
Those in the market for used vehicles need to be on alert, as cars and trucks that were flooded during the hurricane can enter the market. It is common after major floods for scam artists to try to pawn off flooded vehicles as standard second-hand vehicles. These flood-damaged vehicles are likely to turn up at auto auctions, used car dealerships and classified ads.
Flooded cars often are transported well beyond their original region after major storms to locations where consumers may be less aware of the warning signs. Sometimes a seller intentionally hides the vehicle’s history and sells it to an unsuspecting buyer in a state unaffected by the disaster.
Better Business Bureau occasionally receives reports from consumers who have purchased vehicles damaged in a flood. A St. Louis man reported to BBB that he purchased a vehicle from a St. Louis used car dealer that he believed to have been damaged in a flood.
The man told BBB he started having trouble with the vehicle soon after the purchase. He said a mechanic told him rust was coming off the brakes. The man said he was unable to lift the car to fix it “without chunks of rust from the car frame underneath falling off.”
The man said he wound up taking the vehicle to two mechanics, each of which told him it appeared the car had been damaged in a flood.
“Buying a used vehicle requires a lot of research,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “You should ask many questions of the seller, including how they acquired the vehicle. You should be able to test drive the vehicle, and a reputable dealer will let you get a pre-purchase inspection done by a mechanic you trust.”
How can you protect yourself from buying a flood-damaged vehicle?