FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
9/22/2017
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Tracy Imm, 410-468-2206

CONSUMER ADVISORY

Used Car Buyers: Beware of Hurricane Flood Damaged Vehicles

​Consumers in the market for a used car should be on alert for flood damaged vehicles originating from states recently hit hard by hurricanes and flooding.

Obvious signs of flood damage include condensation in headlights and tail lights, or mold or mildew on seats or carpeting. Unfortunately, many indications of flood damage are not this obvious. While most states require vehicle titles to indicate flood damage, some wholesalers may intentionally transfer titles to avoid having the damage noted. A car may look perfectly fine on the surface, but contain hidden damage that might not be immediately noticeable. For example, flood damage can compromise the car’s computer and safety mechanisms, which pose significant safety hazards.

Using these extra precautions can save you time and money when buying a used car:
 
  • Take the time to inspect the vehicle. Check the engine for a high water mark on the engine block or radiator. Look for rust or corrosion on wires and other components under the hood.
  • Be suspicious if the interior smells damp and of mildew.
  • Shop at a reputable dealer. Flood damaged vehicles often end up at auctions or sold by “curb stoners”. Curb stoning is a way for unscrupulous sellers to skirt the laws. They may pose as a private seller either parking the vehicle next to the “curb stone” with a sign, For Sale by Owner, or through an online service such as Craig’s List. Not all private sellers are curb stoning but be aware of that possibility and thoroughly check before making the purchase.
  • Before buying a car, ask the dealer to obtain a report with a detailed history of the car. Comprehensive reports are produced with the vehicle identification number (VIN) and are available for a fee from a variety of sources, including:
    o Carfax (www.carfax.com)
    o Auto Check (www.autocheck.com)
    o Consumer Guide (www.auto.consumerguide.com)
  • Consider taking the car to a qualified mechanic to inspect the vehicle thoroughly.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, you may contact the Maryland Insurance Administration at 410-468-2000 or 800-492-6116. You may also visit our website at www.insurance.maryland.gov.

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