By David Peel
Following major hurricanes like Harvey and Irma, many flooded cars are totaled by insurance companies and auctioned to salvage.
But look out, some of them will soon be for sale nearby.
No one makes the salvage actually destroy the car, so they sometimes get “rebuilt”. In the case of a partially flooded vehicle, they are sometimes just washed and sold.
The electrical systems are easily damaged by flooding but may work until rust takes over.
While title histories like Carfax usually reveal a salvage or rebuilt title, so-called “title washing” can still mask the damage. A state can show a car as having a flood-damaged title properly, but still may receive a clean title in another.
You can use tools like National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck service, that has free data from insurers to see if the car is a total loss or salvaged.
One trick is to recall that submerged cars and trucks will often have telltale signs that can be found.
The door panel often can be removed with a screw or two. This reveals the hollow inside of the door, where there should be dust but no mud or debris.
Pop the hood, look for dried mud, dirt or debris in cracks, hard to wash areas, crevices, tucked in small recesses near the starter motor, top of the transmission, pumps and check wiring harnesses. Further, check for corrosion on components.
The carpeted interior and trunk may show rust lurking just underneath. Also look under the dashboard. Make sure to test any electrical components such as the cigarette lighter, windshield wipers and air conditioning.
Also, be aware of any mold and mildew. Bad smells are a problem.
Remember, if in doubt, cross it out.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.
By David Peel