Buyer Beware: Vehicles Damaged By Harvey Floods Coming To Used Car Lots

CHICAGO (CBS) — As many as 500,000 vehicles in Texas were damaged by flood waters during Hurricane Harvey, and many of those could end up in used car lots, prompting a warning to Illinois consumers.

“People really need to protect themselves, particularly now, as they may be in the market for a used vehicle,” said AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher. “Insurance companies declare flood-damaged vehicles as ‘total losses,’ and then they’re sold to salvage companies for parts, and then rather than dismantling those cars for parts, some of the vehicles are purchased by individuals who restore them back to some sort of working order, but they’re actually flood-damaged vehicles.”

Mosher said the warning signs can be easy to spot.

“Any sort of damp odor inside the vehicle, new carpet, upholstery that has been recently shampooed or replaced. Pull back that carpet and look at different areas for mud, dirt, signs of water stains,” she said.

Buyers also should check for rust under the vehicle when buying a used car, according to Mosher.

Mosher said vehicles damaged by the floods from Hurricane Harvey can end up anywhere in the U.S. if someone gets them in working order, so anyone buying a used car should demand a Carfax vehicle report.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has instructed his office to closely monitor title applications from areas impacted by flooding.

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