Flooded cars are a problem for their owners – and future car buyers

Residents across the country are still wailing out of the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which hit the Gulf Coast last week before reaching the northeast, leaving New York City and its suburbs under water.

Dozens were killed, many trapped in their cars in the flood waters. News and social media for the New York-New Jersey area show cars that were abandoned on major highways as well as on neighborhood streets.

With used car prices at record levels, the temptation to resell flood-damaged cars may prove more lucrative this year than ever.

The floods from Ida have ended the summer season, causing water logging in many parts of the country. In turn, this has created major headache for car owners and car buyers. Thousands of vehicles have been seriously damaged or completely damaged. But many owners soon find that, despite having insurance, they are out of luck when it comes to compensating for their losses.

Meanwhile, in the coming months, some of the vehicles damaged by the floods could be in the used vehicle market through an aptly named scam known as “title wash.” Anyone buying one of those vehicles can get a lot of headaches.

When a vehicle gets submerged, all kinds of problems arise in it, starting with mold. Body panels and other components can rust. Water can damage the engine. And then there are all the electronic circuits that control everything from the power windows to the car’s security and infotainment systems. They may suffer intermittent or complete failures.

“A car that’s in a flood, with the engine left on for any length of time, will never be the same,” said Carl Sullivan, a veteran inspector at California-based AIM Mobile Inspection.

Drying a car as quickly as possible, especially if it has been submerged in salt water, is important, Sullivan and other experts stress. They also warn drivers not to attempt to start the vehicle immediately after a flood, especially where water has entered the engine. This can lead to a catastrophic failure known as a hydrolock. Instead, find a repair shop trained to deal with water damage and take the vehicle in.

Motorists should take detailed photographs that can help support an insurance claim. Unfortunately, many owners find out too late that their coverage does not cover floods.

Mark Fitzpatrick, an analyst with the website MoneyGeek, said, “If you want to be covered for your car’s flood damage, you’ll need comprehensive coverage, which takes damage caused by acts of God such as hailstorms or floods. Is.”

If your vehicle is new and still covered by a loan or lease, notes Fitzpatrick, you likely have comprehensive insurance, as it is usually required as part of your agreement. But older vehicles that have been paid, he said, often have the minimum insurance coverage required by most states. In that case, repairs – or even replacement of the entire vehicle – may have to come out of pocket.

For those looking ahead, industry data shows comprehensive coverage that typically adds between $400 and $500 a year to your insurance bill, although several factors can affect this figure, including where you live, the cost of the vehicle and the cost of your vehicle. Your driving record is included.

However, it is not only vehicle owners who need to worry about vehicles damaged by floods. And this warning is especially important at a time when inventories of new and used cars are in particularly short supply.

Legally, any vehicle that has been damaged or declared damaged by floods must be clearly marked on the title.

Legally, any vehicle that has been damaged or declared damaged by floods must be clearly marked on the title. Most of them will either be dismantled and recycled or they can be dismantled for parts. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in some cases, owners may try to dry off a vehicle and then sell it, without warning the buyer that it is in a flood.

There are also a lot of scam artists in the notes of NICB, who earn their living by getting flooded vehicles at cheap prices. The cars are cleaned, then taken out of the state where the VIN (Unique Vehicle Identification Number) is switched on and the car is replaced without any indication that it has been damaged.

Buy one of these vehicles and you may not notice a problem right away, but over time, the smell of mold may become apparent, rust may appear, or the lights and electrical circuits may start to bother you.

“Water-damaged vehicles can be taken anywhere for resale, and often continue to appear on the market for several months,” AAA spokeswoman Ellen Edmonds said in a statement.

Travel and Road Services advises motorists to obtain vehicle history from companies such as CarFax before purchasing a used car, truck or crossover. It should reveal whether the vehicle has been flood damaged. Many buyers also take the vehicle to a mechanic to be checked out.

Due to the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips, new vehicle production has declined and dealers are short of inventory this year. This is sending many customers into the used car market, which, in turn, has driven the prices of previously owned vehicles to record highs. For some scam artists — as well as owners who don’t have insurance on their vehicles — the temptation to resell flood-damaged cars may prove more lucrative this year than ever.

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