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Flooded Cars – Coming to a Dealer Near You? [AUDIO]

MORE: NJ Recovering From Sandy

Hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks were flooded, partially or completely, by the monster of a storm known as Sandy that made landfall in New Jersey late last month. Unfortunately, you could be an owner of one of those flood-damaged vehicles someday.

CARFAX, a provider of vehicle history information, issued a warning to used car buyers and sellers – watch out for flooded cars that are cleaned up and resold.

East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

The company has been receiving flood damage reports every day since the storm from insurance companies, repair facilities and other sources, but not every flooding incident goes on record.

“With an airing out and quick cleanup, con men often turn around and try to sell these vehicles as quickly as possible,” explained Larry Gamache, CARFAX communications director. “They may try to trade them in to an unsuspecting dealer or sell them to a consumer online.”

Gamache said flood water is corrosive by nature, filled with biological and chemical solvents that washed up in the deluge.

“The effects of the water are totally unpredictable,” Gamache continued. “They can degrade the mechanical performance of the vehicle…Water can get into the fuel line or hydraulic systems.”

Also, flood-damaged airbags have been proven to fail, by not inflating on impact or deploying on their own while the car is in motion.

“Get a qualified mechanic to check the car for you,” said Gamache.

Used car buyers can also do their own checks for signs of water damage:

Are there water lines in the trunk or engine compartment?

Is there a slight, or strong, scent of mold?

Can you spot rusted bolts or corroded wires?

To help car buyers avoid problems from the start, CARFAX offers a free-of-charge flood damage report on any vehicle. All that’s needed is a Vehicle Identification Number.

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