HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning water damaged cars from Hurricane Michael could soon be flooding the market, and buyers need to be wary of scammers.
In a tweet the NHTSA said “nearly a million vehicles have been damaged or destroyed by the storms so far... some of these vehicles end up back on the market.”
The administration’s website said scammers will present a false title that won’t signify the vehicle’s damage or will have “lost” it. Cars that have had water damage but been cleaned will have a “rebuilt” title.
The NHTSA recommends three basic tests if you suspect flooding damage:
- The sniff test- smelling your car for mildew. If there’s a strong smell of deodorizer or air freshener, that’s a red flag.
- Dirt and Grime- Check the car for waterlines, mud and watermarks in places not immediately visible such as the trunk, glove box and under the dashboard.
- Rust and Corrosion- Check underneath the car for excess damage caused by water.
WAFF 48 News reached out to Bryan Cooper, the general manager of Richard Hughes Auto Sales in Huntsville about what to look for.
He said anybody buying a new car should check the 17-digit VIN number of the vehicle online with CARFAX, an online service that provides the insurance history of the vehicle.
“Go online, pay the fee and you can get the CARFAX and it’ll tell you where it’s from since it was a baby,” he said.
The vehicle identification number can be often be found on the inside of the driver’s door or in the bottom driver-side corner of the windshield.
He also recommended checking with the North Alabama Better Business Bureau before deciding where to buy a used car.