Can regional floods impact car owners across the country?
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey unleased a wave of historic destruction on Houston, Texas and surrounding areas. Just weeks later in September, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean islands before zeroing in on the state of Florida, leaving a statewide path of destruction in its wake. All in all, the damage of these two storms is estimated at more than $290 billion, according to Money.com.
After the flood waters receded and the magnitude of the loss became apparent—so did the shady tactics of opportunists. Across the country, a growing number of flood-damaged cars are being listed for sale as pre-owned vehicles in other states, and all too often, signs of that damage can be difficult to spot with a quick visual inspection.
Flood damage should show up on the car title, right?
In conventional situations, flood damage would be listed on an automobile’s state title, and the red flag would be waving. However, as a result of the staggering number of cars impacted by the hurricanes, many state offices are encountering a gridlock-inducing backlog of work. What does this mean to an average consumer? Unfortunately, it means some flood-damaged cars are being auctioned off and shipped all over the country before the title reflects the defects—leaving the new owner holding a “flood title” when the records are finally updated.
Short of becoming an expert in the mechanical and cosmetic indicators of flood damage, how can prospective buyers safeguard themselves? Obtaining a thorough vehicle history report is a solid start that offers a quick and easy way to spot trouble.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
To apply the old proverb to the car-buying process, spending a few dollars on a vehicle history report can save hours of headaches and thousands of dollars in the long run. With the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) providing free VIN checks and reputable companies like Carfax and AutoCheck offering reliable reports for reasonable prices, buying a used vehicle without gathering all the facts is an unnecessarily risky proposition. And with the recent catastrophes that swept across the South, it’s more important than ever for consumers to have all the facts possible before making a purchase decision.
If you’re looking to buy a used vehicle and need assistance doing your research, contact our Loan Department today at 732.312.1500, Option 4. We can help make sure your new-to-you ride wasn’t involved in any of this year’s hurricanes and also provide you with low rate financing on it!* Get started here.
*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA.