Over Memorial Day weekend, people living throughout northern Texas and Oklahoma faced some of the most severe, record-breaking flooding they had ever seen.
In Houston alone, more than 4,000 homes faced significant damage due to the floods — but it’s not just homes that were damaged by rising waters. According to findings from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, as many as 10,000 cars have been damaged or totaled due to these floods.
And there’s nothing stopping those who own one of these cars to sell them to someone else while neglecting to mention the vehicle’s water damage. As a result, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a warning advising consumers hoping to buy a new or used car to be on the lookout for water-damaged cars.
“Our hearts go out to flood victims as they work to clean up and rebuild,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even though the floods didn’t hit North Carolina, consumers here need to watch out for dishonest dealers who may try to trick them into buying flooded cars.”
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that flooding causes more than $3 billion in damage each year, making it the No. 1 natural disaster affecting the U.S. To prevent such losses, many car sellers with questionable moral compasses will put flooded vehicles through a rigorous cleaning process, making it tough to detect water damage until weeks later. However, it’s illegal in many states to sell a car without disclosing the fact that it has water damage.
“Thousands of cars have been flooded in Texas and Oklahoma, and it won’t be long before they pop up for sale across the country,” said Cooper. “Be on guard so you don’t get stuck with a flooded car.”
Vehicular water damage goes beyond having wet carpets. Because cars aren’t designed to be submerged underwater, flood waters can rust out its internal parts, including the car’s transmission.
To avoid buying a water-damaged vehicle, Cooper advised car buyers to always check the car’s title and to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust before making the purchase. Ultimately, if you come across a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.