Market Trends & Analysis

Search Autoparts/Aftermarket-business/Market-trends-analysis/

Compromised, contaminated flood cars pose risks to motorists, technicians

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 07:00
Print Article

If a car deal smells too good to be true, it probably is. An excess dousing of air-freshener in a bargain-priced vehicle with a for-sale sign tucked in the window could be masking telltale mold and mildew, signaling that a supposed creampuff is actually a dangerous “flood car” shipped from the Harvey and Irma hurricane zones to be sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Want more? Enjoy a free subscription to Aftermarket Business World magazine to get the latest news in the automotive aftermarket industry. Click here to start your subscription today.

Nearly one million vehicles sat soaking in polluted high water when a year’s worth of rain fell on Houston within four days and record-setting saltwater storm surges engulfed Jacksonville, Fla., Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga. A saltwater bath has more of a bite to it as it can eat through numerous metals, but freshwater is equally troublesome.

A car could have been dried out, minimally fixed and able to fire right up, yet gremlins can lurk within the tiniest corroded electrical contact – causing key components to suddenly fail without warning. A dysfunction afflicting safety features such airbags and anti-lock brakes can render a deadly outcome.

According to the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR), “There is no recommended method or procedure to restore submerged vehicles from flooded-affected areas to pre-accident condition.”

“Our data shows there’s still much work to be done in helping consumers avoid buying flood-damaged cars,” says Carfax President Dick Raines. “They can, and do, show up all over the country, whether it be a few miles or hundreds of miles from where the flooding occurred. With two devastating storms already this year, it’s vital for used-car buyers everywhere to protect themselves from flooded cars that may wind up for sale.”

Historically about half of the vehicles damaged in a given flood eventually end up in the used-car marketplace, Raines reports.

Under appropriate circumstances, a car’s flooded status is duly documented on the title via insurers, state DMV officials and other authorities, and then typically designated for the crusher. Or a scrap yard if undamaged parts are present. In certain situations, a flooded car can be legitimately re-sold when its wet history is properly noted on the title and the buyer is fully informed.

With flood cars, unscrupulous fraudsters engage in “title washing” that falsifies a vehicle’s provenance to claim that it originates from a different state, thus disguising the fact that it was swamped by a flood.

Article Categorization
Article Details

< Previous
Next >
blog comments powered by Disqus