Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh issued a press release Tuesday warning consumers about purchasing possible flood-damaged cars. With thousands of vehicles damaged from Hurricane Irma and Harvey, it is possible that many of these will end up on the market.
Consumers should be aware of possible scams, where dishonest sellers may “wash” hide the damage, “wash” the title and offer the flood-damaged vehicles for sale. Each of these vehicles should be marked “total loss” or “salvage” on the title.
“Consumers purchasing a used car after a hurricane should always be wary that the vehicle may be irreparably damaged and not the good deal it appears to be,” said Attorney General Frosh.
Signs of a flooded vehicle to look for include:
- Moldy, musty odor, which may be concealed with heavy deodorizers
- Loose, mismatched, damp, new or stained carpeting or upholstery
- Rust around the dashboard, gas and break pedals, trunk latches and doors
- Silt or mud under the seats or in the glove compartment
- Brittle wires
- Moisture or fog beds in exterior and interior lights and instrumental panel
Frosh urges car seekers to check the VIN history through NICB and National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which charges a fee ranging from $2.95 to $12.99 per report. The history includes title issue date, current and previous state of title data, theft history data and salvage history.
Complaints should be filed with the Office of Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Division at www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov.