Watch Out For Flood-Damaged Cars Coming Out Of Texas

Last month, flooding in Texas killed at least 23 people: there isn’t a final tally yet because some people are still missing. That’s all very sad, but what if you live thousands of miles away and don’t know anyone in Texas? This natural disaster could still affect you directly…if you’re in the market for a used car, since rebuilt vehicles destroyed in a flood could be hitting the market in coming months.

When a car is destroyed in a flood and sold to be rebuilt or “salvaged,” there’s supposed to be a special notation on the title. That doesn’t always happen, or you may not realize what a different state’s salvage title notation looks like.

How can you protect yourself from unknowingly buying a flood-damaged vehicle? First, check multiple sources when performing a background check on your vehicle: our mildew-free colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports recommend cross-checking multiple sources for signs that there’s been some shenanigans with the car’s title.

Resources to check include the federal government’s National Motor Vehicle Information System, CarFax, and a free VIN check from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Don’t depend on any one of these sources: check all of them, and have your own mechanic check out the car.

There are also specific warning signs to look for that a car may have been in a flood: these include discolored carpeting, undercarriage rust that doesn’t correlate to the actual age of the vehicle and location where it was driven, water buildup in the car’s exterior, and dirt in unusual places, like the front seat tracks, that detailers may have missed.

Beware the flood of flood cars [Consumer Reports]

FURTHER READING:
5 Warning Signs That You’re Buying A Flood-Damaged Car