There are many consumer protection rules, like the California lemon law, which aim to protect people who buy vehicles. However, even with laws in place to help ensure that car buyers don't get swindled, the laws do not cover every situation or provide protection for every consumer transaction involving a vehicle. That said, car buyers need to do due diligence to protect themselves from loss.
In particular, one issue that car buyers need to be careful of is vehicles that may have suffered serious damage but are being sold without disclosure of the problems. This is a common issue any time you buy a used car, especially if the dealer is not 100 percent trustworthy.
However, risks rise after natural disasters like floods happen. When a major event like a flood occurs and causes damage to hundreds or thousands of cars, sometimes, unscrupulous people and companies will turn around and try to sell these cars without letting future buyers know of the rough history of the vehicles.
Watch Out for Vehicles Damaged in Floods and Other Natural Disasters
When cars are caught in major natural disasters, the full extent of the vehicle damage is not always readily apparent to the naked eye. A flood for example, could cause important vehicle system components to become submerged in water. This, in turn, can cause problems like rust, corrosion or electrical malfunctioning.
Car buyers may not see the lingering problems under the surface of the hood and inside the car which were caused by the vehicle's exposure to the wet conditions. Car buyers can end up purchasing the car, unaware that it is likely to have many problems because of all the water damage.
Just recently, for example, Dayton Daily News reported on big problems with flood damaged cars that are being sold after the flooding in Louisiana. According to the Daily News, the problems with flood damaged vehicles are not restricted to Louisiana borders. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that close to half of the vehicles that are in flood-damaged locations will be refurbished and taken out of state for sale. The cars are sold out of state so buyers in more distant locations are not really aware of the risk that the car was exposed to the disaster.
The refurbishment and resale of flood damaged cars is described as a “huge industry.” Unfortunately, those who refurbish the cars will usually replace only things you can see, like the carpeting, while not doing anything to fix the more serious internal problems that the flood has caused to occur.
Consumers should know how the lemon law affects their rights when they buy cars and should understand both the reach and the limitations of this law. Don't assume you are always protected or that a car is always going to be safe or that a dealer is always going to disclose damage. Do your research, know your rights and get legal help when you need it.