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Flooded Cars Could be Headed to a California Dealership Near You

» Posted December 15, 2023Resources | Share This Post

Vehicles damaged during the series of rainstorms that ripped through much of the state nearly a year ago are likely to end up on used car lots, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times.

“In the days and weeks ahead, a complex ecosystem of insurance companies, auction houses, car dealers and others will process these soggy automotive casualties,” Daniel Miller reports for The Times. “Many will eventually wind up for sale again. And at least some of those rides will be risky buys.”

Thousands of cars were flooded when storms tore through the state in January. Many have been deemed “totaled” by insurers, meaning that the cost of repairing the vehicles is more than their current values. 

They will then be auctioned off to buyers who want to use the cars for parts or resell them on the used car market. That is reportedly what happened in Florida and other states after Hurricane Ian walloped the region, damaging hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

“And that matters because cars that have suffered water damage could be perilously unsafe, both physically and technologically, even if they don’t look that way,” Miller reports.

In California and other states, it is legal to resell cars that have been totaled by insurers so long as the damage is disclosed

“We are seeing these flooded cars show up all around the country, putting unsuspecting buyers at risk,” Emilie Voss, a spokeswoman for Carfax, told The Times. “Cosmetically these cars might look great, but if you don’t know what to look for, it’s nearly impossible to tell they are literally rotting from the inside out.”

Legal Rights for Car Owners in California

The L.A. Times report highlights just how important it is for used car buyers to do their homework and get as much information as possible about a car before buying it.

It is important to know that used car dealerships and online listings are havens for defective and malfunctioning vehicles.

Approximately 40% of used cars being offered for sale across the country are covered by at least one open recall that has not been addressed, according to research from Consumers’ Checkbook and the Consumer Federation of America. 

Federal legislation that would require used car dealers to address open recalls before they can sell covered vehicles has stalled in Congress.

Fortunately, California car owners have some important rights and protections.

The California lemon law generally requires car manufacturers to perform a wide range of repairs on vehicles while they are under warranty. It also forces the companies to buy back (or replace, in some cases) cars that they cannot or will not fix. That includes covering the vehicle’s purchase price and financing costs, as well as rental car and other related expenses.

Talk with a California Lemon Law Attorney

If you have been stuck with a defective or malfunctioning vehicle, a California lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help you fight back.  

Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney.

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