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Flood Damaged Cars: Concerns and Safety Tips

» Posted February 21, 2018Resources | Share This Post

If you buy a new vehicle with serious problems, a Los Angeles lemon law lawyer can provide you with help taking action to protect yourself from loss.

Unfortunately, many used car buyers face serious risks of ending up with unsafe vehicles thanks to flood damaged cars. Just recently, Consumer Safety News issued a warning about the prevalence of vehicles with flood damage hitting the market. These vehicles present serious safety risks and unscrupulous dealers may attempt to hide their flood history from unsuspecting car buyers.

Flood Damaged Cars Present a Danger to Vehicle Buyers

As Consumer Safety News indicated, it's prime car-buying season right now and many dealers are making special offers on new and used vehicles, often promising huge savings and low priced financing.

Unfortunately, the used car market has a lot of flood-damaged vehicles thanks to major hurricanes that occurred last year. A total of 600,000 vehicles experienced damage in floods due to hurricanes and thousands more cars were also damaged due to other storms and more minor flooding events. Many of the vehicles were either fully or partially submerged thanks to hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and other serious weather vents.

Some of the vehicles that were damaged in the floods will be scrapped, while others will be sold under salvage titles so buyers know what they are getting and are prepared for the risks. However, many of the flood damaged vehicles will not be reported as having been exposed to water. Many of these vehicles will be cleaned up and sold, despite the fact that the law requires the flood damage to have been reported.  This is an especially common problem in circumstances where people fail to report flood damage because they do not have comprehensive car insurance to cover their losses and they know their cars will be reduced in value if they make a report.

Water damage can cause serious long-lasting problems to vehicles. Mold can grow on soft surfaces, creating a respiratory risk for vehicle occupants. If the electrical systems in the vehicle get wet, safety systems such as the airbags may not work but the problem may not be discovered until it is too late after an accident happens.  If the water rises high enough, the engine compartment or other mechanical systems could be damaged and permanent performance and safety issues could occur.

Despite the serious problems with flood damaged cars, scammers have found ways to remove salvage titles and sell cars to unsuspecting buyers who are not aware of the vehicle history. The problem is, each set of states have their own laws so scammers can use the differences in these laws to retitle the car and get the cars a clean title. This process, called title washing, is illegal but it is not always discovered-- and it means that these flood damaged cars can find their way to buyers across the country.

Buyers need to know their rights, and take precautions to protect themselves, such as checking the title with the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

Unfortunately, even when consumers do know how to protect themselves, it can be challenging for individuals to navigate the complexities associated with different types of consumer protection laws. This is why it is so important for buyers of vehicles to get the help they need. This includes buyers of new cars which turn out to be defective; these buyers should contact a Los Angeles lemon law lawyer for help so they can protect their rights.


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