Scam Alert: Avoid buying flood-damaged cars

Local News

In this July 8, 2019, photo, Honda cars are seen before shipping at Yokohama port near of Tokyo. Japanese automaker Honda reported Friday, Aug. 2, a 29% decline in fiscal first quarter profit as an unfavorable currency exchange and declining auto sales in the U.S. and India hurt earnings. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — After all the rain and storms south Louisiana has seen over the past couple of months, the Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana wants you to be cautious if you’re looking to buy a used car.

President and CEO Carmen Million said vehicles are being re-sold without telling consumers all of the information and it’s important for people to know if the vehicle has been in a flood.

“There are good used car salespeople and there are bad ones. You can’t expect that company to be totally truthful,” said Million.

One of the steps that can protect you against the scam is simply asking questions before you make a purchase.

“It’s so important to get a carfax. The carfax will tell you who owned the vehicle and where the vehicle has been before you actually purchase it. And probably the most important thing that we try to tell consumers is before you buy used cars, read your contract very carefully and whatever you do not sign an as-is contract,” said Million.

According to mechanic Jason Payne with K & M automotive, you should do a smell test.

“If it smells musty, there’s been water in it,” said Payne.

Other ways to know if a car had water inside include checking the condition of the fabrics.

“You can pull back the carpet and look at the floorboards and see if there’s any rust or dirt build-up underneath the carpet padding,” said Payne.

It is also highly recommended to bring a mechanic you trust with you to check under the hood.

“It depends on how high the water gets, if it gets under the hood, it will rust. Certain things you will see. I mean if it’s in flooded waters you’ll see debris stuck up in the engine places, you know, branches or twigs or anything like that from the running water underneath it,” said Payne.

If you become a victim of this type of scam, simply report the company by contacting the BBB or the state’s Attorney General’s office.

Additional Tips:

  • Ask to see the title
  • Check the condition of the fabrics
  • Remember to check under the hood
  • Do a smell test
  • Get a CarFax
  • Get an inspection
  • Research the dealer
  • Get a warranty in writing that tells you exactly what is covered
  • Never sign an ‘As-Is’ contract.

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