Don't buy a flood car - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Don't buy a flood car

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Georgia's Attorney General warns you to watch out for flood damaged used cars from Hurricane Sandy in New York or New Jersey. Auto experts say damage from the Hurricane could raise prices of all used cars in the coming months.

Hurricane Sandy flooded or damaged an estimated 250 thousand cars. Replacing those cars has increased demand, and obviously that could push the price of used cars higher. The Attorney General says you want to beware buying a recycled flooded car in what dealers call the busy time of year. 

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens warned that crooks in Georgia could be trying to sell flooded used cars from New York or New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Reputable dealers say buyers need to see the title for any car they are considering buying, and see whether it has been branded with the word "salvage" or "reconstructed." They say you shouldn't depend only on something like a CarFax report.

 "If it's never been reported, it's probably or would not show up on a CarFax. So obviously a mechanical visual inspection is going to be your best avenue,"  said Donovan Broome of Lawson Auto Sales.

The Attorney General says you should only do business with a dealer you trust, and he recommends you closely check online classified ads.

"A reputable dealer is going to have inspected the vehicle and had paid some money at sales and things like that. So obviously they are going to have the title in hand and be able to look at that there and they would know right off hand," Broome said.

This is the time of year South Georgia used car dealers are stocking up for what they call the "busy season" in late January, February, and March. The supply of good used cars could be tightened by the demand from the Hurricane ravaged areas, and the National Auto Dealers Association said that could mean price increases of from one half percent to one and a half percent.

"If it's going to effect us, it's going to effect us in the next few months. Earlier on. Once those cars are replaced obviously the effect is going to be less and less," Broome said.

When paying thousands of dollars for a car, you want to make sure your investment is not a lemon. A flooded car could have the upholstery and carpeting cleaned, and paint cover the cosmetic damage. But auto experts say electrical and computer system problems are practically guaranteed if the car has been submerged, with brakes and airbags also seriously compromised.  

The best advice from used car dealers and the Attorney General, if you have any doubts about a used car having been flooded or submerged by the Hurricane, take it to a trusted mechanic. Have them inspect the alternator crevices, behind the wiring harnesses, the starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.

You can check any vehicle history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.  Any car with ownership titled in the storm affected areas should bring out a red flag.