Michigan AG Provides Tips to Avoid Purchasing Flood Damaged Vehicles

December 20, 2005

Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox warned consumers today about the danger of flood-damaged vehicles. A Consumer Alert, Used Vehicle Buyers Watch for Flood Damage, posted to the attorney general’s Website provides tips to avoid unpleasant surprises.
“There may be half a million vehicles that were severely damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Cox said. “Consumers need to be on guard against vehicles that may have been repaired, moved to Michigan, and offered for sale without an indication of the previous damage.”
Cox cautions consumers that without full disclosure, the buyer pays too much for the vehicle and risks costly repairs, hassles, and, most importantly, even physical danger. Used car buyers should have used vehicles thoroughly inspected by a mechanic before purchasing.
In addition to tips for detecting flood-damaged vehicles, the consumer alert references free tools to check the history of a used vehicle offered by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Carfax and AutoCheck.

Buyers should look for signs of flood damage by:
• Checking inside the trunk, including around the spare tire, for evidence of moisture, silt, or corrosion.
• Checking the engine for signs of moisture damage, such as rust or silt or grass.
• Giving the vehicle a smell test, both inside and out. If it smells musty, it could have been flood-damaged.
• Examining the underside of the vehicle for signs of excess moisture, including evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late-model vehicles.
• Checking inside dome lights, glove boxes, and other places where water might have been trapped for signs of moisture, mold, rust, or silt.
• Checking the interior for signs of mismatched items such as carpeting or seat covers.
• Testing all electrical components, including lights, signals, switches, and audio system.
• Testing the air-conditioner and the heater.

Cox said that his office will take action against any business that knowingly sells a storm-damaged vehicle to a Michigan consumer without disclosing the damage. Consumers who discover they unknowingly purchased a storm-damaged vehicle can file a complaint with Attorney General Cox’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-SOLVE-88 (1-877-765-8388) or online at www.michigan.gov/ag.

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