SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - In the weeks and months after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the gulf coast, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a public service announcement, warning would be car buyers to be wary of flood damage.
The PSA claims there are an estimated 300,000 flood-damaged vehicles currently traveling the roads after the storms.
"I do not want our State's consumers to get taken for a ride," said General Landry.
"Just because we were not in the storm's eye does not mean we are not at risk," said Landry. "Fraudsters tend to cross state lines to avoid scrutiny, and they work to obtain false titles to hide flood damage."
Louisiana Law RS 32:707 states, "A vehicle whose power train , computer, or electrical system has sustained water damage, but does not meet the criteria for a salvaged vehicle or a certificate of destruction, shall be issued a branded title indicating the vehicle has sustained water damage."
Doug Bean owns Aero Auto Salvage Yard in Shreveport and says he receives water-damaged vehicles from time to time, but unless there was an insurance claim filed, it can be hard to tell.
"If no one claims it with insurance, insurance ain't going to know, and then you have no way of knowing," said Bean. "If my car floods, I'll take it out there, clean it up, power wash the carpet, touch it up as best I can, and sell it to you, not telling you anything."
Bean says his business salvages cars for parts, so flood damage doesn't affect him, but if you find yourself buying a used car from someone on the street or a used car lot, you have to know what to look for.
"Know what you're looking at. If you have any concerns, take it to a shop, let someone else look at it."
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, NICB, released a list of ways you can spot flood damage.
You can check out those tips here or read below:
- Check vehicle carpeting for water damage
- Check for rust on screws or other metallic items
- Inspect upholstery and seat belts for water stains
- Remove spare tire and inspect area for water damage
- Check the engine compartment for mud or indicators of submergence
- Check under the dashboard for mud or moisture
- Inspect headlights and taillights for signs of water
- Check the operation of electrical components
- Check for mold or a musty odor
You can also search VIN numbers with NICB by clicking here.