After hurricanes, flood of storm-damaged cars heading for market – Chicago Tribune

Cars soaked by floodwaters from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will soon start appearing in the Midwest used car market, so buyers should beware, according to vehicle experts.

“Even brick-and-mortar legitimate dealers can get burned buying flooded vehicles,” said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a Des Plaines-based nonprofit that fights insurance fraud and crime. “If a professional can get burned, you can too.”

Flood damage is easier to conceal from an untrained eye than damage from a wreck, but it can be more devastating to the engine and other key components, said Christopher Basso, spokesman for the used car research firm Carfax. Flooding can destroy a car’s electronic system, affecting safety features like air bags and anti-lock brakes, while rust can rot the vehicle from the inside, Basso said.

Scafidi expects the number of flood-damaged cars to be greater for Harvey than it was for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, both because of Harvey’s bigger footprint and because in the last 12 years more vehicles rely on computer technology and electronics.

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