Landry: Look out for flood-damaged cars

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 25, 2016

Special to The Daily News

Attorney General Jeff Landry cautions the recent flooding that has impacted parts of Louisiana could affect car buyers across the entire state.

“Flood-damaged vehicles can end up on the used car market and sold to unsuspecting customers. I do not want our state’s consumers to get taken for a ride,” Landry said. “If you are in the market to buy a used vehicle, inspect it carefully. Look at hidden parts or crevices to check for mud or silt, indicators of the car having water damage.”

Landry urges car shoppers to follow these important tips:

• Look for water stains, mildew, or sand under the carpet and floor mats and in the console and wheel well, where the spare tire is stored. Also look for fogging or moisture in the interior lights, exterior lights, and dashboard.

• Smell the interior of the car. A heavy aroma of cleaners and disinfectants could be a sign that someone’s trying to mask a mold or odor problem.

• Feel and listen for problems. Have your mechanic inspect the car’s mechanical and electrical components, and systems that contain fluids, for water contamination. Notice if anything feels or sounds unusual.

• Know the difference between “salvage title” and “flood title.” A salvage title means the car was declared a total loss by an insurance company because of a serious accident or some other problems. A flood title means the car has damage from sitting in water deep enough to fill the engine compartment. The title status is part of a vehicle history report.

• Obtain a vehicle history report. The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s free database includes flood damage and other information.

If you suspect a dealer is knowingly selling a flood-damaged car or a salvaged vehicle as a good-condition, used car — contact your auto insurance company, local law enforcement agency, or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.