TEXAS — The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is warning consumers to watch out for flood-damaged vehicles on the market after Imelda.
"Unscrupulous sellers will buy salvage cars at auction and resell them to unsuspecting buyers across the state and nation," warns TDI in a release. "Once an engine gets waterlogged, it’s almost impossible to ever make it right."
Those in the market for a new car should make sure to check for signs of water damage, according to Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan. "There's often a reason when the deal look too good to be true," said Sullivan.
TDI says customers should check used vehicles for stains, mildew, rust, discoloration, or for debris under floor mats or where the spare tire is located. If the car has a moldy or mildew odor, definitely be on the lookout, according to TDI.
You should also check the title. When a vehicle has been declared a total loss, the title must be changed to salvage. Ask for a vehicle history report, which will list the status of the title.
Checking the VIN with a free service from The National Insurance Crime Bureau called VINCheck can help you know if a vehicle has been listed as stolen or a total loss at any point. To check, you just enter the VIN in the NICB database.
Also, have a mechanic take a look before buying, since water damage is not always immediately obvious. And always try to find a reputable mechanic and dealer when buying a car, says TDI officials.
Used boats and RVS and campers on the market may also be resold after being damaged by floodwaters. TDI says consumers should follow the same tips when making these purchases.