10 steps to watch for flood-damaged vehicles

One of the thousands of vehicles flooded by Hurricane Harvey. (Image by michelmond / Shutterstock.com)
CARY, N.C. - 

With two Category 4 hurricanes striking the United States during the past two weeks, the National Automobile Dealers Association offered 10 inspection tips for prospective buyers to spot flood-damaged vehicles.

As what’s left of Hurricane Irma cut through Georgia and Alabama on Monday, the impact left a day earlier in Florida was significant.

According to updates posted on its website, ADESA did not open its Florida facilities in Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, Ocala and Jacksonville on Monday. ADESA Atlanta was set to close at 1 p.m. on Monday. ADESA Birmingham opened on Monday, but officials said the Alabama facility was operating with a limited staff.

While ADESA said its Orlando operation still was planning to have its dealer consignment sale on Tuesday, and its regularly scheduled consignment sale in Atlanta on Wednesday was still scheduled, the company emphasized that dealers and consignors should monitor its website for potential changes.

No matter how dealerships might be acquiring inventory in the coming weeks, NADA urged used-car managers and operators to watch for potentially damaged vehicles by taking these :

1. Check a vehicle’s title history using the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or a commercially available vehicle history report service, such as Experian or Carfax, etc. Reports may state whether a vehicle has been flood damaged.

2. Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.

3. Check for recently shampooed carpeting.

4. Look under the carpeting for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.

5. Inspect for interior rust and under the carpeting, and inspect upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.

6. Check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and note any mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.

7. Check for rust on screws in the console and in other areas water would normally not reach unless the vehicle was submerged.

8. Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.

9. Inspect electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.

10. Inspect other components for rust or flaking metal not normally found in late-model vehicles.

NAMAD gets involved in hurricane relief

In light of historic hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida, the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealershas spearheaded the NAMAD Disaster Relief Fund to assist employees and families of NAMAD members in these affected areas.

In a member-wide call to action, NAMAD has asked members to contribute $2,000 for each dealership they own to this crucial Fund.

“The response has been amazing,” NAMAD chairman Irving Matthews said in a news release. “We have already collected more than $400,000 towards our goal of raising $1 million.  Even our dealerships in the affected areas have donated, despite the potential for huge financial losses. 

“All of the monies raised will be distributed to NAMAD member dealer employees and their families to help them deal with the loss of income, housing and stability hurricanes Harvey and Irma have created,” Matthews continued. “Like millions of Americans coast to coast, we've made a commitment to help those in need, and help jumpstart the rebuilding process.”

NAMAD acknowledged it will take months for the most severely damaged businesses to rebuild.  This, too, prolongs the crisis for affected families.

“NAMAD calls on the insurance industry to be expedient in processing claims for losses during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” NAMAD president Damon Lester said. “We also thank automobile manufacturers for accelerating vehicle removal and staging so damaged inventory can be replaced as quickly as possible.

“Texas and Florida represent two major markets for new vehicle sales in the U.S., and NAMAD and others are doing our part to assist those in need,” Lester said. “If all companies that support the automobile industry react and respond with immediacy and purpose, we can, more quickly, put Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the history books.”

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