Call 12 For Action alert about flood vehicles

Many flood damaged vehicles may end up in Arizona, where people aren't necessarily looking for that kind of damage.

PHOENIX - Call 12 For Action has a warning about the increasing number of flood vehicles from the hurricanes this year that could soon swamp the used car market.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau now says almost half a million cars, trucks and SUV's have been flooded in the past two months because of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The cost of this destruction is estimated to be almost $5 billion. 

It's only a matter of time before thousands of the flood vehicles make their way to Arizona's hot desert to dry out and get back on the market.

"It's something we always have to be aware of as a used car shopper," said Ron Montoya, who’s with Edumunds.com.

Buyers could see the flood vehicles on the market next week or next year. 

The first group will likely be those with no insurance or only collision coverage. Often the sellers won't disclose the flood damage and it may not show up on a vehicle history report.

That's why buyers should do a thorough inspection of the vehicle before buying it. Look for wet headlights, rusted parts, brittle carpet, standing water in cracks and crevices and a foul smell.

The second set of flood vehicles buyers will likely encounter will be those that insurance companies declare a total loss.

“If it's been in a flood or totaled, it would say salvage title right across the top of it,” said NARPRO’S Howard Fleischmann.

Arizona is one of 38 states that report this information to the federal government.

You can run a basic background check of a vehicle for free on the National Insurance Crime Bureau's website or pay for more comprehensive ones on sites such as CARFAX

But be careful about buying cars from other states. If a vehicle is from a state that's been flooded and the deal seems to good to be true, then it probably is. 

If you have any doubts about buying a used vehicle, have a certified mechanic check it out. They can usually tell if the vehicle's been flooded and let you know about the damage that's been done or that the flooding could cause months or even years later.

If you feel like you've been ripped off with a flood vehicle and not told about it, submit a complaint to Call 12 For Action and our team of investigators will get to work for you.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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