Thursday 16 July 2015

Buyer Beware: Safety Hazards of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Buyer Beware: Safety Hazards of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Millions of people in the eastern United States suffered property damage and loss, widespread power 
outages, and major flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. Hence,, it is extremely important for consumers 

to be aware of the safety impact of floods on vehicles.

Severe water damage can make vehicles’ electrical systems, including their airbag sensors, prone to 
failure. When a car’s electrical systems have been compromised, it may no longer be safe or roadworthy.



After Hurricane Katrina, for example, truckloads of flooded vehicles were reportedly taken out of 

Louisiana to states as far away as the upper Midwest, where they were dried out, cleaned, and sold. 

Purchasers of those vehicles may not have known that the vehicles had endured a saltwater flood that 
damaged their electrical systems. 


The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) the body designed to protect prospective 
buyers of used cars and trucks from concealed vehicle histories. Created by federal law, this system is the 

only publicly available system in the US that requires all insurance carriers, auto recyclers, junk and 

salvage yards, and states to report vehicle history information. An NMVTIS vehicle history report 

provides information on the five key indicators associated with preventing vehicle-related fraud and theft:

    • current state of title and last title date;
    •  brand history, a descriptive label assigned by states to indicate a vehicle’s current or prior  state—
      for example: “junk,” “salvage,” “flood;”
    • odometer reading;
    • total loss history; and 
    Source: NMVTIS

    If a vehicle has a brand, total loss, or salvage history, then the consumer is warned that the vehicle may be 
    unsafe (A NMVTIS report does not include repair histories, recall information, and other care and 

    maintenance data available in alternative vehicle history reports).

    Shop smart. Make sure you obtain an independent vehicle inspection and have all the information about a 
    vehicle before you buy.

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