State warns people to watch out for flooded used cars

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - The state of Nevada warns consumers to look for flood damage in vehicles when they buy a used car.

“Even though it has been several months since Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated Texas and Florida, there were thousands of vehicles that were damaged in the two storms,” the Nevada Division of Insurance said in a statement. “Some of these vehicles may be making their way to Nevada.”

It is legal to sell a total loss vehicle as long as the damage is disclosed, but the new owner may pay significantly higher insurance rates if the vehicle can be insured at all, the division warned.

In other cases, unscrupulous buyers will buy damaged vehicles and get a clean title by transferring the title without following the procedure required by law to acquire either a salvage title or a nonrepairable vehicle certificate. Those vehicles may be cleaned up and sold without any disclosure of flood damage, the state said. Not knowing you purchased a flood-damaged vehicle could have serious implications, especially if you are involved in a collision and the vehicle is deemed a total-loss. This means the insurance company will pay for what the vehicle was worth at the time of the incident and not what the consumer paid for it.

According to the Bureau of Justice, consumers can visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), which is designed to prevent concealment of flood damage and other vehicle histories at Consumers may also visit Carfax, Auto Check or VinAudit for a comprehensive vehicle history reports.

The state also offered these tips:

• Shop at a reputable dealership or have a reputable mechanic inspect any vehicle purchased via a private-party sale.
• Inspect the vehicle for a musty or moldy smell.
• Check out the headlights and tail lights. If they appear foggy, they may have moisture trapped inside.
• Look under the hood for any rusty cables or other elements.