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Consumers need to beware of vehicles damaged by floods | Department of Licensing

November 24, 2012 · 1:57 PM
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Thousands of vehicles damaged by the recent hurricane-related flooding on the east coast may find their way into the garages of unsuspecting consumers all across the nation in coming months.

While it is not yet known exactly how many vehicles were damaged or destroyed by the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, the number is expected to be very high. Many of these vehicles are expected to move from state to state as they are cleaned up and offered for sale at auto auctions, used car dealerships, and even by private parties.
After being cleaned up, these vehicles may look like any other vehicle. However, there are significant mechanical, safety and health risks associated with flood-damaged vehicles.
Due to the high number of vehicles suffering damage, it is possible some of them will enter Washington and be offered for sale here, Department of Licensing Director Alan Haight said. And because dealers may not be aware of a vehicle’s past, consumers must protect themselves, he added.
“When purchasing a used car, consumers should always carefully examine and test drive a vehicle,” Haight said. “They also should have it inspected by a mechanic they trust and avoid any seller who refuses to allow an independent inspection.”
Dirty floodwater can cause rust and damage major mechanical parts like engines and transmissions. The water also damages electrical systems especially onboard computers that are often located at low points in vehicles, like under seats. Salt water is particularly damaging to the sensitive electronics in modern vehicles.
These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:

The Department of Licensing has a wide variety of consumer services available online. Please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


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