Some very early estimates from Hurricane Sandy indicated that the number of flood damaged cars might exceed the 600,000 vehicles damaged by flood waters from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. However, more than a week after the storm and the insurance companies covering that area show that fewer than 40,000 vehicles were damaged during the recent storm.
Flood damaged vehicles are notorious for showing up months later and miles away on some used car dealership lot where they are fobbed off on an unsuspecting buyer. These poor folks get cars with untold hidden problems such as short-circuited electronics, strange odors and internal rust. These cars are usually not worth more than you could get at salvage yard for them, but if nobody is the wiser they can fetch much more from a dealership.
Although some bet that Hurricane Sandy would produce a huge influx of these types of “second-hand” cars, but these estimates have proved wrong. Perhaps car owners in the northeast were better prepared than those living in New Orleans prior to Katrina, or perhaps it was just the luck of the draw. Whatever the cause, the number of vehicles damaged by flood waters last week was not as bad as might have been expected given the breadth of devastation.
There are strict laws forbidding the sale of previously flood damaged vehicles, or any vehicle with a known defect which is not fully disclosed to the new buyer. All states and the federal government have rigorous standards when it comes to the buying and selling of automobiles, but buyers should still be cautious, nonetheless.