AG warns of flood-damaged vehicles on used car market


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re looking for a new used vehicle, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office is warning residents to be on the lookout for flood-damaged cars, trucks and SUVS.

Due to the recent flooding across the state, it’s likely many damaged vehicles will end up on the used car market. Many will be for sale without any mention or obvious signs of flood damage. The attorney general’s office warns it may take weeks or months before vehicles show signs of flood damage, which could be past the warranty.

Before purchasing a used vehicle, it’s recommend to have it inspected by an expert mechanic who has no relation to the seller.Inside of February flooding | Full flood coverage

It’s also important to check the vehicle history by putting in the VIN number through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database. It can tell consumers if the vehicle was in a flood region or issued a flood or salvage title.

The attorney general’s office warns the database doesn’t always have the most up-to-date vehicle history, which is why the inspection is important.

Authorities tell consumers to be aware of the following signs a vehicle has been damaged by flooding:

  •  “Musty or “over-perfumed’ smell or signs of mold or mildew;
  • “Water stains, mud or residue in the trunk, under the carpet, floor mats, gas and brake pedals, and in hard-to-reach places difficult to clean;
  •  “Car hesitates, runs rough, or shows signs of premature rust or corrosion in places where you wouldn’t expect to see rust, such as the upper door hinges, trunk latches, and screws on the console.
  • “Always physically inspect the vehicle’s paper title before you buy. Check to see if it has been branded as ‘flood,’ ‘junk,’ ‘salvage,’ ‘rebuilt’ or another brand indicating the vehicle was severely damaged. But beware; a clean title does not prove the car is undamaged. The title may have been ‘laundered’ across state lines or altered to conceal the brand.”

If you believe you bought a vehicle damaged by flooding, you can file a complaint with the Secretary of State online or by calling 888.767.6424. You can also file a complaint through the AG’s Consumer Protection Division online or at 877.765.8388.

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