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Carfax Reports Disturbing Info on Flood Damaged Cars

About Two-Thirds of Flooded Cars Focused in 10 States

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Carfax Reports Disturbing Info on Flood Damaged Cars

This is one example of a flood-damaged used car you don't want to purchase but dishonest people want to sell you.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The problem of flooded used cars, while a small percentage of overall used cars, continues to be a problem as foul weather strikes across the United States based on a new report from Carfax.com.

According to the Carfax.com report issued Aug. 2, 2013, "Hundreds of thousands of flooded cars have washed up on the shores of every state in the country. According to new research from Carfax, more than 212,000 cars that were branded as flood damage by a state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are on U.S. roads right now."

Historically, about half of the cars damaged by floods get resold, some to unsuspecting buyers. As a service to consumers, Carfax lets you check for flood damage free of charge at flood.carfax.com.

Even more troubling, based on the report, is where the flood-damaged cars are located. Almost 65% are focused in 10 states, which is not surprising considering they happen to be large states when it comes to population.

The Top 10 states for flood damaged used cars are:

  1. Texas
  2. New Jersey
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Kentucky
  5. Louisiana
  6. Illinois
  7. New York
  8. Florida
  9. Mississippi
  10. Virginia

That's an important list to keep in mind if you are considering purchasing a used car from those states. Of course by compiling this list, Carfax is hoping you will use their vehicle history report site to see if vehicles have flood damage. If you do, refer to this article on how to read a Carfax report that will prove helpful if you are looking for a used car.

Another site to consider for vehicle history reports is AutoCheck. It offers a lot of the same information as CarFax and is favored by some companies like Mazda for its certified pre-owned program.

However, as the Carfax research shows, scam artists are moving flood cars to any state where unknowing consumers will buy them. "Our research proves that flood damaged cars are everywhere," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. "It's big business for professional con men to quickly clean up and resell these cars miles from where the flooding occurred. Consumers need to look out for flooded cars no matter where they live. They're a serious danger to anyone who unknowingly buys one."

Floodwater, especially salt water like from Superstorm Sandy, rots and corrodes vehicles from the inside out. Carfax recently recovered a Superstorm Sandy flood car to analyze the extensive internal water damage as well as demonstrate how easily cars can be made to appear safe and reliable on the outside.

Superstorm Sandy had a huge impact on New Jersey and New York, which is a major reason those two states place so high on the flood car list. As Experian Automotive noted, there were more than 9 million vehicles in the impacted areas of Superstorm Sandy.

"Flood cars are a volatile mixture of water, metal and electricity," said Gamache. "Once a car is ravaged by water, the mechanical, electrical or safety systems can fail at any time. There's also the health risk, as mold and bacteria permeate the vents and soft parts of the interior. Know what you're putting you and your family into before laying down your hard-earned money. Start with a Carfax Vehicle History Report and thorough inspection by a trusted mechanic."

Consider, too, going to a more experienced service for a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. AiM Mobile Inspections is one company that is leading the industry for its nationwide service and broad array of offerings. It says it has inspected more than 60 million vehicles (including its commercial fleet business).

The Better Business Bureau offers some sound advice on checking used cars for flood damage. Here is its advice:

  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work.
  • Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • If the car's history seems suspicious, ask the dealer or individual directly if the car has been damaged by flood water.

Heed the advice from Carfax. If you have any suspicions about a car's origins, get a vehicle history report and a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. Both should go a long way towards preventing you from buy a flood-damaged used car.

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