TALLAHASSEE – In the wake of the major flooding on the Eastern Seaboard from Hurricane Sandy, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reminds car buyers to be alert for signs a car is being sold without the disclosure it was damaged by flooding.
Florida prohibits dealers licensed with the state from making any false, misleading or deceptive statements about the condition or history of any vehicle and specifically requires the disclosure of “Salvage” vehicles to consumers. Salvage is the category for flood-damaged vehicles. The sale of a vehicle without proper disclosure also may violate Unfair Trade Practice laws.
While a car may look perfectly fine on the surface, it could have hidden defects that are not immediately noticeable. Flood damage can compromise the car’s computer and safety mechanisms, which pose significant safety hazards to the new owner.
Here are some steps to take before purchasing a car if you suspect it may have been flooded:
- Take the car to a qualified mechanic to inspect the vehicle thoroughly.
- Be alert for “too-good-to-be-true” prices.
- Take the time to inspect the car yourself.
- Check the engine for a high water mark on the block or radiator, which is a clear indication the car has been flooded.
- Look for rust or corrosion on wires and other components under the hood.
- Be suspicious if the carpet smells damp or has mildew.
- Shop at a reputable dealership.
- Be aware flooded vehicles often end up at car auctions.
- Before buying the car, ask the dealer to obtain a report with a detailed history of the car.
If you are having issues with a possible flood vehicle that you purchased from a Florida dealership, please contact the Motorist Services Regional Office closest to you by looking under your county listing on the following web page flhsmv.gov/offices.
Individuals selling cars via advertisement or on the Internet are not regulated by the state, so be especially careful in purchasing through these venues.
To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter at @FDHSMV or visit our Facebook page.