RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With all the severe weather we’re having across the country, thousands of cars fell victim to flooding, and now some of those cars are making their way into the used car market, including North Carolina.
Currently, there are more than 15,000 flood damaged cars driving on North Carolina’s roads according to Carfax and more of them will end up being sold to unsuspecting victims in the coming months, following Hurricane Idalia.
“Those scammers that are trying to sell you a flooded car will ship them or drive them long distances away from where the actual storm or flood took place,” said Meredith Radford of the Better Business Bureau of the Eastern Carolinas. “That way, the people they’re trying to sell it to will be less suspicious about the car.”
Floods can leave damage in the vehicle’s interior, undercarriage, engine compartment as well as elsewhere in in the car, literally making them rot from the inside out.
With enough equipment and manpower, scammers can turn that mess into a cosmetically beautiful car and then they are ready to trick you.
“That’s why it’s so important to check the electronics in the car, to check underneath the car, under the hood of the car, and test all the electronics to make sure that things are working properly,” said Radford.
Many times, those inspections are best done by a mechanic who knows what to look for.
Although scammers can make the flooded engine compartment look pristine, there’s permanent internal damage to things like electrical components.
All of those connections are very important. They are what runs the whole car, pretty much.
Before you buy a used car, always check the title.
“If the title is stamped with salvage or arrived from an area where they recently had a bad flood, you need to ask questions,” said Radford.
Scammers often buy flood damaged cars and illegally change the title. Once it’s been reported as flood damaged, however, that condition is noted on the governments Vehicle Identification Number database, even if the title has been altered.
Carfax has an online tool which will tell you if the vehicle has been under water.
One more thing, it’s important you have an independent mechanic check out any used car before you buy. It may cost a few bucks up front, but it will save you lots of money and aggravation in the long run.