Used-car buyers beware: In the near future, it is possible that some used-vehicle lots will be hawking refurbished vehicle victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Chicago Tribune
Insurance companies will eventually rule many of the cars a total loss, making settlement payments to dealers or private owners. The vehicles are then sold at auction for cheap, at which point they are labeled as “flooded” or “salvage” vehicles.
Some entrepreneurs will then move the car to a state where the vehicle’s previous condition doesn’t have to be listed on the title. According to the report, once the record is clean, the vehicle is moved again, where it will be put up for sale.
Currently, only half of U.S. states require the “flooded” or “salvage” branding on vehicles.
To spot the Gulf Coast cars, dealers recommend that car buyers open every compartment and check every crevice for mud, silt, mildew or rust.
Experts also say it is a good idea to get a CarFax report whether buying from a dealer or a private party, according to the Tribune
. CarFax provides histories of used vehicles based on information from state departments or motor vehicles, police departments and insurance companies in all 50 states.