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Vehicles flooded by Hurricane Ian will soon be sold in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Cars and trucks inundated by Hurricane Ian will soon be cleaned up and sold in Indiana and other states to unsuspecting car buyers.

Currently, about 400,000 people on the road nationwide have a waterlogged history, according to Carfax, a company that provides vehicle history reports.

“That was before Hurricane Ian hit,” said Carfax spokeswoman Emilie Voss. “They take these cars; they clean them and then resell them to unsuspecting buyers.”

Flooded vehicles can get to Indiana in a number of ways, including scammers trying to make a quick buck.

You’ll find vehicles inundated by Hurricane Ian on Craigslist and Facebook, as well as car dealership lots.

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“Sometimes there are unscrupulous sellers, whether a reseller or a private seller, who then turn around and seek to make a profit by not disclosing that they have suffered damage from flood in their history,” Voss said. “Some who go the insurance claims route will be auctioned off and end up on the roads.”

Indiana currently ranks 15e in the country regarding the number of vehicles damaged by floods on the road, with 8,700, an increase of 4% compared to 2021.

Spotting a flood-damaged vehicle can be difficult.

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“To the naked eye they look absolutely fine, but they’re literally rotting from the inside out,” Voss said. “It’s scary. It’s scary, especially for an unsuspecting buyer.”

Carfax offers a free flood check here.

Insert the vehicle identification and the tool will tell you if a vehicle has ever experienced flooding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also offers VIN checks here.

PERFORM A VIN VERIFICATION | NHTSA | NICB | AUTOMATIC CHECK | CARFAX

If the seller is using a fraudulent title, it can be even harder to spot a soggy past.

This is why it is important to have the vehicle checked by a mechanic before buying it, and also to bring the car in for a test drive.

Remember these tips from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to identify flood-damaged vehicles while shopping:

  • Sniff test: If the car smells musty, chances are it has been exposed to water. If it smells strongly of air freshener or air freshener, the seller may be trying to mask the mildew smell.
  • Dirt and grime: Mud, dirt, or water lines inside the vehicle are possible signs of flood damage. Don’t forget to check hidden places for dirt and watermarks, like the trunk, glove box and under the dash.
  • Rust and Corrosion: Check under the vehicle to see if there is an unusual amount of rust or corrosion for the age and location of the vehicle.

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