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Caution: Flood Damaged Vehicles

If you are on the hunt for a new or used vehicle, it’s important to understand what to look for to avoid buying a flood damaged one. Flood damage is not limited to just used cars; new cars can have flood damage as well.

Flood damaged vehicles can look and drive like new – as if the damaged never occurred. But after a few months the detrimental long term effects of the damage come to a head and hit you where it hurts, your wallet.

Areas of a car that are damaged by flood that can be covered up are the electrical system, air bag electronic controls, anti-lock brakes, and many other safety features. Damage from floods to these areas may not come to light for months after a purchase.

Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Car

There are a number of things you can do to avoid buying a flood damaged car:

• Complete a title search. A title search will show evidence of flood damage if it occurred. But “title washing” can be done by moving the vehicle and title to a new state. To dig deeper and avoid getting ripped off try:

o The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) database of vehicles compiles a list of titles with flood damage. You’ll need the year, make and model or to shorten your search get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can also order a TxDOT vehicle title history from the TxDOT for a small fee. Visit http://www.txdot.gov

o The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a database containing information about flood damaged vehicles. They have a free VINCheck database on their site: http://www.nicb.org

o Lookup your vehicle history on http://www.carfax.com or http://www.autocheck.com to get a history of the vehicle. There may be a small fee for these services, but it’s better than a big expense later on.

• Do a thorough visual search of the vehicle. Check for mud on the under carriage, under the dash, the seat and anywhere that a thorough cleaning might miss. Look for signs of rust or a high water mark. Some flood damage is permanent and nearly impossible to erase. A thorough search could reveal a lot.

• Avoid buying form an individual. You might pay a little more from a certified used car or truck retailer, but the price could be worth it. These facilities often provide a warranty from the auto manufacturer, and not just the dealer. Flood damaged vehicles are excluded from automakers certified car programs, so you are safest buying from these dealers.

• Take a long test drive and make an appointment with your local body shop. Too many things can be hidden from the untrained eye. It’s always a good idea to have an inspection of the vehicle prior to buying. You do it for your house, why not your car?

• If you can’t take it for a test drive, don’t buy it. That means avoid buying a car from online auction houses.

As a Texas resident, you have resources available to you if you feel you have been ripped off. If you think you are a victim of a fraudulent vehicle sale, call the Texas Attorney General’s office at 800-621-0508 or visit their website at http://www.oag.state.tx.us and file a complaint. Once that is done, focus locally and file another complaint with the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org. Be vigilant and file your complaints, it will help you and protect others from the same scam.

Online Texas Auto Insurance

To further protect your vehicle investment make sure you have the proper auto insurance coverage. You can use this online Texas Auto Insurance portal to get up to eight quotes in one online location. These quotes will be from well-known auto insurance providers like Geico, All-State, State Farm and more.