Bad Credit Cars and Hurricane Sandyby Steve Cypher on Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Car buyers with less than perfect credit need be on the lookout for flood damaged cars that are the result of the damage caused by the recent east coast storm.
At Auto Credit Express we understand this because we’ve been helping credit-challenged buyers find dealers for their best chance at getting financed. The resources section on our website is often the best place to start the process as it explains such issues as repossession and references along with the current topic, how to avoid buying a used car with hidden water damage.
Even though all high-risk lenders refuse to finance any vehicle that has a branded title -which includes those used cars that have suffered water damage – that doesn’t mean this never happens.
When this does happen, it’s usually the result of a flood-damaged vehicle being purchased by salvage operators who then clean it up and re-title it in another state. Quite often this practice results in a re-issued title that shows no prior damage in what is known as “title washing.”
We recently came across an article from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) that discusses this very topic:
“Unscrupulous salvage operators and dealers often try to conceal the fact that the vehicles they are selling have been damaged by a natural disaster,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “It is not illegal to sell or buy a flood-damaged car, however, it is against the law to sell a water-damaged car without letting the buyer know that the car had been damaged by a flood.”
How to spot hidden damage
The article went on to state that “To avoid inadvertently purchasing a flood-damaged car, it is important that you only buy a used car from a reputable dealer, have a certified mechanic look for flood damage and check the car’s VIN number by using a credible industry database.”
The I.I.I. also suggests that buyers be on the lookout for the following indicators that a car may have been flooded:
• Mildew, debris and silt in places where it wouldn’t normally be found, such as under the carpeting in the trunk, or around the engine compartment
• Rust on screws and other metal parts
• Water stains or faded upholstery; discoloration of seatbelts and door panels
• Dampness in the floor and carpeting; moisture on the inside of the instrument panel
• A moldy odor or an intense smell of Lysol or deodorizer; this is a tactic frequently used by dealers to cover up an odor problem
If you suspect that a new or used car dealer in your area is committing fraud by knowingly selling flooded cars as undamaged vehicles, contact your insurance company, local law enforcement agency or the NICB at 800-TEL-NICB.
There is a resource that’s a good place to start verifying the title of a vehicle. For car shoppers that wish to learn more about the history of a specific car and whether it has been declared a salvage vehicle by a participating NICB member insurance company, the NICB created VINCheck. This site provides consumers with a free search tool based on a vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification) number. This service can be accessed from the NICB home page at: https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck.
The Bottom Line
Be careful when picking out a used car and always remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
One more thing that’s good to know: Auto Credit Express specializes in helping applicants with car credit issues find dealers for their best chances at auto loan approvals.
So if you’re ready to reestablish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online auto loans application.