National News

Hurricane Harvey cars may 'flood' Arizona

Posted September 8

— Seeing cars submerged under water or floating down streets was a pretty common sight within the aftermath of hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Irma is also feared to possibly have a devastating effect on the U.S. Many of the vehicles left submerged will be dried out, aired out and pushed out to unsuspecting consumers, some right here in Arizona.

Cleaning up a vehicle that's been submerged in a flood like a hurricane can be time consuming. But for unscrupulous sellers, it can also be very profitable.

"3,000 cars that were previously in other storms are now in Arizona and are on the road."

3 On Your Side spoke by Skype with Chris Basso from Carfax. He provided footage which shows how Carfax took a car once submerged in water during Hurricane Sandy and cleaned it up inside and out making it look practically new.

Cars once reported with flood damage and then re-sold is a big problem. In fact, thousands of cars that were submerged 12 years ago during Hurricane Katrina were later re-sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Carfax says the exact same thing happened again in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy.

And now, there's Hurricane Harvey, which recently devastated the Houston area and left nearly a million vehicles with water damage.

According to Carfax, a lot of those drenched vehicles are expected to be dried out and put on the market.

"Are you telling me some of these cars floating down in 3 or 4 or 5 feet of water, they can be re-sold again?"

Basso went on to say; "People are going to dry them out, they're going to clean them up, they're going to move them either a few miles or even several hundred miles away to be re-sold to somebody who has no idea that car was completely under water."

In an effort to keep consumers from being duped, Basso says Carfax offers a free service that helps you avoid buying a lemon.

"If you're worried about buying a flood damaged car you can go to carfax.com/flood, type in a 17-digit VIN and we'll tell you for free if any reported flood damage is in our data base for that particular vehicle."

While consumers are encouraged to use the free service, it's also a good idea to have a reputable mechanic check out a pre-owned car, no matter how clean it might look like

"I would have them take a look at the under panels."

Jesse Garcia is the general manager at Kelly Clark Automotive, a AAA certified garage in Phoenix. He says mechanics usually charge around a hundred dollars to inspect the entire vehicle looking for rust or other signs of water damage.

Garcia says the inspections will also uncover hidden mechanical problems.

"They can look out for rust or things that are not in the right spot, maybe different coloration's in the carpet or the seat, the upholstery, the under panel, they're some of the tips we'll give them."

With a new year approaching, many consumers will be trading in their vehicle or re-selling it to a private party. Just make sure the car you're interested in buying is in good shape and not one of those water-logged vehicles that's made its way to Arizona.

"We want to make sure everybody buying a used car knows what they're putting them and their family into.

Again, if you want to see if a car has been reported as "flooded" and you want to do it for free, click on Carfax.

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