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More than 212,000 flooded cars sold

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

More than 212,000 flood-damaged cars, many from Superstorm Sandy, are on the roads all over the country, according to new data from Carfax.

Carfax assessed Department of Motor Vehicle records across the U.S. and found that almost two-thirds of the flooded cars are registered in 10 states: Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. However, Carfax said its research shows that scam artists who do minimal cleanup on the cars to hide the flood damage but don't repair them are known for moving them to other parts the country, especially in areas far from where the flooding occurred.

Some of these cars are likely to have been paid out as a total loss on car insurance claims, only to be grabbed by con artists and resold.

Carfax said flood-damaged cars from Superstorm Sandy are particularly troublesome because saltwater is especially corrosive. Flood-damaged cars often appear safe and reliable on the outside but are literally rotting from the inside out from corrosion that began when the car sat in water. Used-car shoppers can help protect themselves by reading "4 tips to avoid buying a water-damaged car."

Are you taking precautions to avoid buying a flood-damaged car?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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August 20, 2013 at 9:12 am

I have an auto repair shop about a mile from a Copart Auction yard. I've been seeing these cars sold to US consumers for about the last 6 months. They are sold as "Rebuilt" or "Salvage" title vehicles. These vehicles are constantly in & out of my shop with a wide array of problems. Most of the issues are electrical failures or control module issues related to corrosion. As I tell all of my customers "Do your homework before purchasing any Salvage title vehicle". I would personally never purchase one!

August 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm

A lot of insurance company shills and used car salesmen braying loudly here. Carfax is doing a public service and should be commended for exposing this sleazy act.

August 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Amazing that CARFAX makes this claim as in fact, ALL Sandy flood vehicles that were paid off by Insurance companies were Branded as FLOOD vehicles and were sold through Copart and Insurnce Auto Autions again as totalte FLOOD vehicles. Most of these vehicles were shiped out of the US to the Middle East for parts vehicles..I know this to be fact as I run auto transport company transporting hundreds of them to export facilities in the Port Newark NJ area...CARFAX is BS,
IF it's on the internet it's GOT to be so .

August 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Carfax is unreliable and does not back up their warranty. I know first hand.

Bill Oldguy
August 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Nothing against their service, but Carfax is a bit inadequate in that the only way they receive their information is from repair shops and dealers who are kind enough (obligated) to participate.
Have a vehicle repaired by a friend, a do-it yourself project a small yet reputable garage or a body-shop that does not act as a reporting agent for/to Carfax, and there is no record of the repair on their reports.
You really have to do as George (Ft. Bragg) did and use due diligence to investigate the possibility of water, prior accident damage or major parts replacement.
You have to be aware the person you are dealing with has only one persons best interest in mind... his/hers.

August 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm

The government tore up perfectly good cars by the thousands in cash for clunkers yet allow trashed vehicles to be sold all over the country.
They are not our friends.

August 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm

In 1974, while I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC and a year or so before I retired from the U.S. Army, my wife and I went to a town not too far from the base, in answer to an ad offering to sell an almost new Buick at a really great price.

The individual had given the year, model, color, equipment and mileage along with all other information on the car for sale. I was amazed at the price but we went to look and found the car of our dreams equipped just as we wanted and the exact color scheme including the interior we wanted.

I took the usual time looking the car over but noticed under the hood, that the power brake cylinder was rusty as were the manifolds. I asked the seller about the rust and he said the rust under the hood was due to him driving it on the beach at Daytona.

Well now, I had lived for many years on an island off the NC coast and am vey familiar with beaches and driving on them and the only way to get rust under the hood, like his car demonstrated, was to drive in the surf. I again asked him about the car and its history and he continued to tell me he was the original owner and how the "slight rust" under the hood had happened to show up. At that point, I knew he was lying.

My wife was ready to leave but I decided to look the car over very much more closely and did so. The interior had just a slight smell but the back seat was worse, particularly near the floorboards, so I went further. I noticed that the paint on the doors had very tiny rust bubbles on them. Then I opened the trunk and the stench was gross. It obviously had not been cleaned, detailed and sprayed with a deodorizer to get rid of the flood water smell.

I immediately told the man that there was no question in my mind that he was trying to sell us a flood damaged car and he just protested his innocence and continued to lie, saying he had forgotten that he had just come back the day before wih fish in the trunk and that had caused the smell.

My wife and I wisely went back home, now understanding why the price was so incredibly low! That little trip and exposure to a flood damaged car taught me a life-long lesson. If the deal looks too good, it probably does so for a reason you won't like later!

August 09, 2013 at 1:30 am

Amazing how a private industry like Carfax can keep track of this, but the various state governments have no clue other than how to collect tax money for nothing.

Matt K
August 08, 2013 at 4:23 pm

lol yeah since when do insurance companies to anything to help anyone!

August 08, 2013 at 8:40 am

One would think insurance companies would be involved or notify buyers that they bought a flood damaged car.