Connecticut managed to avoid any extensive damage from the historic 2020 hurricane season. However, used car buyers should still be on the lookout for vehicles that may have suffered from flood damage. Often, flood-damaged cars are transported far beyond their original location. As a result, troubling signs may go unnoticed by unwary consumers.
Water damage is often a total loss
Modern vehicles are high-tech, sensitive pieces of equipment. When water seeps into a vehicle, it can effectively destroy the vehicle’s electronics and mechanical systems. Sometimes, corrosion can take years to become a problem. This means a car could seem in perfect working order to your eyes, only to find out a year or two later that you’ve purchased a lemon.
When an insurance company declares a vehicle to be a total loss due to flood damage, Connecticut requires the word “salvage” to be stamped on the title. This makes it illegal to operate the vehicle on any roadway in Connecticut. A rebuilt vehicle can be retitled as long as it passes a salvage inspection.
What consumers can do to protect themselves
Despite consumer protection laws, flood-damaged vehicles still find their way into the marketplace. However, there are steps that you can take to help protect yourself from buying a damaged vehicle.
You should be suspicious of any car whose title has been “lost.” You should also be wary if a car only comes with a bill of sale. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System enables users to perform a background check on a vehicle’s history. If you know that the car has spent time in a hurricane-prone region, you should be particularly cautious.
Even if you take all reasonable precautions, you could still find yourself the victim of fraud. You should discuss your legal options with a skilled professional if you believe a dealer has taken you for a ride.