Do you know how not to get soaked? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Do you know how not to get soaked?

February 7, 2006

Albany -- This time of the year, many of you use your tax refund to buy a car. Consumer groups warn you to beware of cars that were flooded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Federal agencies say cars flooded in Louisiana and Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina are starting to show up for sale around the country, and legitimate used cars dealers in South Georgia say you have reason to worry.

Billy Chambers of Bill Chambers Motors says, "A good body shop could buy these cars and you would never know the difference." Crooks are fixing up the flooded cars, and selling them to unsuspecting customers, but they are no bargain.

Wes Taliaferro of Gillionville Auto said, "They are useless. It would be more headaches than you could ever imagine." When a cars computer components or wiring gets wet, it can not be repaired.

But there are warning signs to look for, like rusted screws on the car's interior. "In New Orleans, unlike when we had the flood here, that was brackish water. So it has salt in it. So anything that's exposed is going to already be rusted. So these fasteners are not rusted, they still look good," said Taliaferro.

Taliaferro said "One thing that would be a dead giveaway, to dry the carpet of a car out, you have to take the seats out. You can look at the heads of the bolts there and see those have not been taken out and are not rusty."

"You might see a water line along the headlights. These are really expensive parts in here, so those wouldn't be cleaned. You would actually be able to see the mud or some debris in side there," Taliaferro said. if you suspect a car, check it's VIN number with Carfax, and it will tell you if the car was near a disaster area.

Billy Chambers says, "if that vehicle was in that county, was registered in that county up until a month after, it's going to show up on the Carfax report, just throwing up a flag."

Consumer groups say crooks are selling these flood cars across the country. Do your homework to make sure you don't get soaked. Another sign of a flood car is a strong moldy smell.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=FloodedCars