Beware The Flood-Damaged Car

(credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/Getty Images)

(credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Pictures from the storms in April and May of people being plucked from their cars and rescued amid rising flood waters were so frequent across the country that one wonders if news agencies aren’t reusing the pictures. Kidding.

Of course stations – especially this one – aren’t reusing the pictures. But who’s reusing the cars that were damaged? Hopefully not you.

Where are all the flood damaged cars? If you are thinking of buying a car, here’s what you need to know to make sure one doesn’t wind up in your driveway.

Under the law, a flood-damaged vehicle is one that has been partially or completely submerged in water to the extent that its body, engine, transmission, or components have been damaged. And, while most state laws require disclosure of flood damage, once a car is moved out of state, its title gets washed and it gets a new title with no record of the damage, which only turns up as costly repairs months later.

Before you buy, examine the underside of the vehicle for rust, look under the floormats for stain residue, check the title history and ask to take it to a mechanic. If the seller refuses, then walk – don’t drive – away.

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