Hurricane flood-damaged vehicles may flood Nashville market

Hurricane flood-damaged vehicles may flood Nashville market (Image 1)

Thousands of cars and trucks from the northeast damaged by Hurricane Sandy could soon be for sale in Middle Tennessee.

National Auto Club AAA is among a large group of consumer advocates sending out a warning of buyer beware.

“It's easier to hide submerged vehicles and try to resale those,” said local AAA Field Sales Manager Deborah Turner.

In the days after Hurricane Sandy, 15,000 damaged cars and trucks were parked on a Long Island airfield. Those vehicles may only be a snapshot of what could be sold at local dealerships in the coming months.

While most of the damaged vehicles are expected to be auctioned off to entities that would use or sale the parts only, the resale of vehicles in the open market is possible.

Nashville's News 2 sought the advice of instructors at Lincoln College of Technology, also known as Nashville Auto Diesel College, on how to spot flood damage.

“Look for simple things like smell, a moldy smell,” said Curtis Riggins. “If you see any moisture or condensation [in the windows], that's a dead giveaway.”

Riggins has more than 20 years of experience refinishing vehicles in the automotive field and teaching collision and repair techniques at the college.

When looking for flood damage, he often bypasses what's under the hood for what's in the trunk.

On a four-door sedan, he pointed out the concave area under the spare tire.

“In this area here is more susceptible to water, standing water,” he said. “If there is corrosion, you will actually see it around this steel area [where the bolt holds the spare tire in place], which doesn't receive a lot of water, shouldn't receive water.”

Protecting against the purchase of flood-damaged vehicle goes beyond giving a car or truck a “once-over” look. Auto experts agree it's what you can't see that may stop you down the road.

“The electrical system, that can be pretty dangerous,” said Riggins. “If that car is power [operated], everything in that car is in jeopardy.”

Everything from power windows and locks to air conditioning and airbags could short out if the vehicle has a history of being submerged in water. Unlike mold or corrosion, the problems may not show up for months.

As with any large purchase, consumers are urged to educate themselves before buying.

“Get a Carfax,” said Turner. “It's shows everything that's every been done to the car.”

According AAA, if you unknowingly buy a flood-damaged vehicle, call your insurance company immediately.

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