The Midwestern and Southeastern areas of the U.S. have recently been plagued by storms and flooding, which has impacted car buyers across the country. Con artists are taking vehicles damaged by floods in these areas, cleaning them up, and then transporting them out of state for sale. Don’t get caught up in these scams. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some helpful tips for consumers looking to buy a used car.
*Look closely for water damage such as water stains, mildew, sand, or silt. Make sure you are checking hidden areas of the car. Under the carpet, floor mats, dashboard, and in the wheel well are good places to look for physical signs of water damage. Also, check the headlights and taillights for fogging.
*Smell the car. Yes, you read that correctly. If a car contains a heavy aroma of cleaners, disinfectants, or air fresheners, someone may be trying to mask a mold or odor problem.
*Find a vehicle history report. The BBB can help you find a reliable database service. The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) free database includes information on flood damage as well as other important facts.
*Understand the title status of the vehicle history report. A “salvage title” means the car was declared a total loss by an insurance company due to a serious accident or other issues. A “flood title” means the car has been damaged from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment.
*Have a professional mechanic inspect for water contamination in the car’s mechanical and electrical components, and systems that contain fluids.
*If you are suspicious of fraud, report it to the authorities. Contact your auto insurance agency, local law enforcement, or the NICB if you think a dealer is knowingly selling a storm-damaged car or a salvaged vehicle as a good-condition used car. You may prevent someone else from getting ripped-off.
Buying a car is a difficult process. Don’t make it harder by falling for these scams. Keep these tips in mind and look for dealers or companies you can trust at bbb.org. Don’t forget to look for the seal for businesses you can trust.