Action Line: Be wary of flood-damaged used cars
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 4:25 AM
Dear Action Line: Has any warning been run about the danger of flood damaged cars being offered for sale as "regular duty used cars?" - M.P., Broken Arrow.
The Tulsa World had a brief Associated Press story Nov. 1 titled, "Oklahoma attorney general warns of storm-damaged vehicles." It recommended having any used car you're considering buying inspected by a reliable mechanic. See AG Pruitt's warning at tulsaworld.com/OKAGstormdamagedcars
CBS News Chicago warned its viewers Nov. 14, 2012, that Hurricane Sandy flood cars were flooding the used car market in Illinois tulsaworld.com/CBSChicagoFloodDamageCars In the broadcast, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White warned Illinois viewers, "Water damaged hurricane cars can end up on the market in Chicago. When you had Katrina, there were 325,000 cars that we alerted the public to. Now we're dealing with 250,000 automobiles" from Sandy, White said.
Nov. 5, AAA Oklahoma warned, "Thousands of vehicles were damaged last week by Hurricane Sandy but not all were total losses. AAA warns potential car buyers that flood-damaged vehicles may soon be making their way to Oklahoma for re-sale.
Auto club spokesman Chuck Mai said, "You never want water inside a vehicle as abrasive dirt and contaminants can cause major damage, working its way into every seam and crevice of a vehicle. Most vulnerable are the engine, transmission and drive train, along with the fuel, brake and power steering systems. Engine computers, sensors and other electronics are also susceptible to corrosion. Used-car shoppers need to know how to spot a vehicle with flood damage."
"Arrange a pre-purchase inspection at a qualified shop," said Mai. "Inspectors will look for tell-tale signs of flood damage like dried mud under the hood or inside the trunk. A damp or musty odor in the vehicle is often a sign of trouble. New carpeting and upholstery in older vehicles may also be hiding serious problems. Check for water stains on the entire length of seat belts. Look for signs of mud or grit under the spare tire, behind wiring harnesses and under the dashboard."
Also see the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle & Parts Commission's "Tips for consumers" tulsaworld.com/OKUMVPCAutoTips and "FAQs" at tulsaworld.com/OKUMVPCFAQs A commission spokeswoman said the agency has received no reports of flood-damaged cars being sold as routine wear used cars here. The proof will likely come later, when the cars require maintenance and the mechanic pronounces them "flood damaged."
A vehicle history report can also be helpful. They might not catch every potential problem, but usually indicate when a car has been flooded or whether or not it has a salvage title - a sign of a troubled past. Purchase a "vehicle history report" through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System tulsaworld.com/NMVIStitlesearch and see "The potential safety hazards of flood-damaged vehicles" tulsaworld.com/NMVIShazardsfloodcar
Original Print Headline: Be wary of flood-damaged used cars
Submit Action Line questions by calling 918-699-8888, emailing phil.mulkins@TulsaWorld.com or by mailing them to Tulsa World Action Line, PO Box 1770, Tulsa OK 74102-1770.