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  • Oct 23, 2017

Hurricane Damaged Used Cars | Buyer Beware of Forged Documentation

Hurricane Damaged Used Cars. Buyer Beware of Forged Documentation. Learn more about GFA Tips, Trends and Financial Topics at our blog.

Vehicles by the thousands could be distributed into the used car market post aftermath of the devastating hurricanes in the south.  Many consumers are at risk of purchasing a flooded used car without even knowing it.

Vehicle history report company Carfax said about half of cars damaged by floods return to the road. 

Carfax estimates that there are about 325,000 flood-damaged cars on the road today from past storms, spread among all states.

How are these cars returning to the used car market?


Damaged flood vehicles are issued flood or salvage titles by the insurance company, it then is auctioned off and then salvaged and cleaned to be put back up for sale to the public.

Private Auto Sales

Private owners may clean the flood damaged vehicle, replacing carpets, upholstery, and selling it to unknowing consumers.  Often the seller will put the vehicle up for sale in another state to avoid knowledge of the flood damage.

Forged Documentation

Sellers forge the title records or other documentation to trick buyers into believing the cars are in good condition.

How to avoid purchasing a flood damaged vehicle...

  • Check the vehicle's history report - Carfax has an open database — which draws information from more than 100,000 sources, including insurers and mechanics — for free flood-history checks at
  • Ask your mechanic to conduct a pre-purchase inspection. - Your mechanic can protect you from buying one of these water-logged damaged vehicles.
  • Check closely for musty smells inside the vehicle, this could indicate the past presence of moisture and mold.
  • Check under the carpet for signs of water or mud.  If you see new carpeting or upholstery this is a red flag.
  • Don't take the seller's word for it.  The seller is looking to offload the vehicle, be sure to do your due diligence and inspect the car, test drive it, and view it's history,

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