Houston, TX -- While communities in several states continue the cleanup from Tropical Storm Allison, consumers around the nation should be alert that flood-damaged cars could be for sale in their community.
Flood-damaged vehicles are vehicles that insurance companies have determined to be total losses. Some of these vehicles wind up in the hands of individuals who then sell them to unsuspecting buyers who are not told about the vehicles' histories.
It is estimated that in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison that 50,000 vehicles were flood-damaged in the Houston area alone. When that figure is combined with flood damaged vehicles from other states, it means that consumers around the nation should be alert when purchasing a used vehicle.
"Whenever disasters like this occur, there are always unscrupulous people and businesses who seek to profit on someone else's misfortune," said Mr. Paul Bettencourt, Tax Assessor for Harris County (Houston), Texas. "Citizens in Harris County, all across Texas and, in fact, our nation need to listen to this warning: Buyer Beware."
There are several tips consumers should consider before the purchase of a used vehicle.
- Have a mechanic complete a pre-inspection before you buy.
- Buy from someone you know or a dealer who offers a warranty or buy-back program.
- Ask to see the title. If the insurance company totaled the vehicle, a remark will be shown on the title.
- Watch out for "great deals" on vehicles less than five years old that have new carpeting or upholstery.
- Use a private service that accesses vehicle histories. They can research insurance claims on vehicles that have been damaged.