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Flood Damaged Autos Surfacing in California

January 25, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi recently issued a warning to car buyers after investigators found seven autos that had suffered undisclosed water damage – possibly from hurricanes — for sale at a Los Angeles auction, according to the Los Angeles Times.Flood-damaged vehicles have also turned up in several other states, such as Arizona, Florida, New York, Michigan, Oklahoma and Missouri. As a result those states have also issued warnings to consumers.At a joint press conference with the Automobile Club of Southern California, Garamendi warned that many dried-out and cleaned-up vehicles are now beginning to show up at local used car and auto salvage auction lots, or listed on ads for auto salvage auction networks. The problem, though, is that many of those cars are not being identified as salvaged.The seven cars spotted at the Los Angeles auctions are suspected of having been put through a process called “washing the title,” in which the title is transferred through several states until the salvage notation is dropped from the ownership documents.According to the Times report, buyers should look for residue under the dashboard, on the alternator, starter motor or power steering pump, and be alert for musty odors to protect themselves from buying a water damaged vehicle.
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