up the messes of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is happening hundreds of miles away
but Canadian consumers need to take care that they don’t get soaked.
goods from Texas and Florida can start showing up anytime and anywhere. Quick
buck artists already are working to pass off damaged goods tounsuspecting buyers.
area of greatest concern is the used vehicle market. There are estimates of
500,000 vehicles damaged in Texas, and probably that many again in Florida.
are legal processes designed to protect buyers from cleaned up, water-damaged
vehicles with serious hidden problems. There are unscrupulous people who find
ways around the laws and sell flooded vehicles camouflaged as normal used cars
2014 study by Carfax Inc., an online company supplying vehicle history reports,
said that 800,000 vehicles on U.S. roads
may have been subject to title washing schemes. A large number of those were
autos damaged in floods.
autos must have ownership titles that list a history of damage. Scammers,
however, have found ways of altering, or washing, titles.
vehicles often are transported well beyond a flood zone because distant buyers are
less likely to think about water-damaged vehicles.
estimates that historically about one-half of vehicles damaged in flooding are
resold. Some have been repaired and the flood damage noted on their titles but
many others get sold through scammers.
(scammers) will buy them, they will make them look OK, and sooner or later some
unsuspecting party is going to buy one and it will end up being a nightmare,”
Jim Tolkan, an automotive dealers association president told the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel recently.
used vehicles usually come to Canada for sale through honest dealers. Some
might have been flooded and the damage and repairs noted and price adjusted to
reflect that. There is a danger that some come through scams.
some advice, gathered from consumer reports and auto mechanics, that might be
helpful to anyone considering buying a used auto from the United States. (Or,
from Canada for that matter because several regions of the country have had
major flooding this year).
is best to have a used car you are considering inspected by a qualified
mechanic. They know the hidden signs of water damage.
damage to autos can be much more than stained upholstery and musty odour. Water
gets into mechanical systems, lubricants and electronics. Today’s vehicles are
heavily dependent on delicate electronics that drive computerized systems.
water of course causes corrosion problems that might not show up until months,
or even years, later.
mounting screws should be checked to see if they have been removed. Carpets
cannot be dried properly without the seats being removed.
into difficult-to-clean places – gaps under the hood and between panels in the
trunk. There might be mud stains or water lines in spots where they are
difficult to remove.
have all sorts of nooks and crannies where mud or stains are missed in a quick
cleaning. A light, magnifying glass or mirror on a stick can help in looking
for evidence of exposure to water.
are areas in autos where unpainted screws are used, like under the dashboard.
Any unpainted screws will show signs of rust if the vehicle has been submerged.
plugs beneath the car or at the bottom of doors should be checked to see if
they have been removed. Plugs are removed to drain flood water from inside the
reflectors or lenses on headlights and taillights sometimes show slightly
visible water lines, solid evidence that the vehicle had been partially
searching a vehicle’s history is an important first step when looking to buy a
are plenty of online sites offering information about ways to protect yourself
from damaged used auto scammers. Sites like Carfax.com and Autocheck.com
provide vehicle histories at a cost. Carfax also has a flood damage site (https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars)
with helpful information.
know people who have had great luck buying used vehicles exported from the U.S.
Like buying anything these days, you just have to be on top of all the ways to