BBB Issues Advice on Spotting, Avoiding Salvaged Cars
Anchorage, Alaska — July 14, 2015 — Looking to buy a used car? Be careful. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, scammers often take advantage of natural disasters, like the recent Texas flooding, to rip off consumers.
Even though the flood happened thousands of miles away, it’s not unusual to see rusting wrecks in local used car lots. Once water penetrates a car, it becomes a sponge for rust and corrosion. Even after a car title is branded as flood damaged or salvaged, scammers often transfer ownership and retitle the autos in several states —a tactic known as “title washing.”
Before signing on the dotted line and handing over the cash, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns of these red flags so consumers can easily spot and avoid flood-damaged cars:
- Pay attention to the carpet. If the carpet looks new or doesn’t match other areas of the interior, it could be a sign there was flooding.
- Check for water stains and smell. Look closely on the sides of the doors, in the trunk and glove compartment and underneath the seat for any mud, water stains or other signs of flooding. Most odors are a real tip-off that the car was not only flooded, but in the water for a long time.
- Inspect the wires and tubing. Check the wires under the dashboard. If they feel brittle or are cracking, it’s a sure-fire sign they may have been damaged.
- Get a copy of the vehicle’s history report. Often dealers will include one for free, but consumers should always check on their own to verify its accuracy. With the vehicle identification number (VIN), shoppers can check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau or Carfax.com to see if the car has been in a flood or stolen.
- Get the car professionally inspected by a trusted mechanic. On a garage lift, the car can be inspected more thoroughly. A trained mechanic can also run diagnostics on the electrical system where the biggest problems occur on flooded cars. You can get a list of trusted mechanics and technicians at bbb.org.
Michelle Tabler, Alaska Regional Manager: 907-644-5208 | firstname.lastname@example.org
David Quinlan, Vice President of Marketing: 206-676-4119