Customers face dealer fraud when flooded vehicles hit the market

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By now, the images of hurricane-ravaged areas of the country are fading from the memories of many in California. However, the devastation remains, and families in those areas struggle to rebuild their lives and replace belongings lost or destroyed in the storms. One important item many families may quickly replace is the car, especially if it was one of the millions submerged in floodwaters. Unfortunately, through dealer fraud, many of those cars end up in the garages of unsuspecting car purchasers.

A car submerged in a flood typically has damage that cannot always be seen. Electrical systems may short out, anti-lock brakes can become compromised and airbags may malfunction. Failure of any of these elements puts the driver and passengers at great risk. In many cases, it is easy to detail a car to hide the water damage long enough to sell it at market value.

Carfax reports that about half of all cars damaged in storm flooding end up back on the road and could be on used car lots in any part of the country. Cars that should be scrapped are often cleaned and resold, especially when the owner did not have enough insurance to replace the loss. Even when auction houses disclose the damage, dealers who purchase the cars at auction may not make such disclosures to subsequent buyers.  

California dealers who offer flood-damaged vehicles without disclosing the damage place their customers in harm's way. Dealer fraud is unacceptable, and customers who complain to the dealer often meet with unsatisfactory results. In such cases, a customer may enlist the help of an attorney who is also familiar with these types of issues. Having such an advocate is often instrumental in bringing about positive results.

Source:, "Previously flooded vehicles considered "ticking time bombs"", Mallory Sofastaii, Sept. 14, 2017

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