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Waterlogged Cars From Hurricane Sandy Could Make Way To Chicago Market

Officials warn that cars that were submerged during Hurricane Sandy, or otherwise suffered water damage in the storm, could end up for sale in the Chicago market. (Credit: CNN)

Officials warn that cars that were submerged during Hurricane Sandy, or otherwise suffered water damage in the storm, could end up for sale in the Chicago market. (Credit: CNN)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you think Hurricane Sandy was a problem only for people on the East Coast, think again.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has issued a warning to consumers that flood-damaged cars might be popping up for sale in Illinois.

CBS 2’s Ed Curran reports on how to avoid buying a water-logged lemon.

People have been flooding East Coast car dealerships in the wake of Sandy.

With special manufacturer’s discounts, New York resident Jerry Aliberti planned to replace both of the cars he lost to Sandy. He described his trade-in: “The seats are all soaked. They’re just inundated with this muck, this dirty water that infiltrated the car.”

Water damaged hurricane cars can end up on the market in Chicago.

White said it’s a real threat, pointing to all the waterlogged cars that hit the market after Hurricane Katrina.

“When you had Katrina, there were 325,000 cars that we alerted the public to. Now we’re dealing with 250,000 automobiles,” White said.

He said his office will red flag cars that come to Illinois from Hurricane areas, and give them a second look when the owner issues an Illinois title.

A car that’s been under water can be sent to a scrapyard after the insurance payoff, fixed up, and issued a new title as a rebuilt car. The flood damage might not become apparent until later down the road.

White said you have to know what you’re buying.

“You have to know the history of that vehicle. There’s CarFax and there’s the National Insurance Crime Bureau; they can help you in the process, as well as the Secretary of State’s office.”

One auto auction house said they won’t touch a car that carries a “rebuilt” title and also suggested using CarFax as a way to check a car’s history.

A sample CarFax report on the company’s website ironically showed a car that made its way from Virginia to Glencoe; an easy transport haul for a fine used car, or even one that’s sea-sick.

Help for buying a used car:

Secretary of State’s Guide To Buying Or Selling A Used Car

National Insurance Crime Bureau

CarFax Flood Damage Check