Michigan Attorney General Cox Warns Consumers About Danger Of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Tips for Detecting Damage from Flooding

LANSING, Mich., Dec 12 2005 /PRNewswire/ – Attorney General Mike Cox warned consumers today about the danger of flood-damaged vehicles and provided tips to avoid unpleasant surprises.

“There may be half a million vehicles that were severely damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Cox said. “Consumers need to be on guard against vehicles that may have been repaired, moved to Michigan, and offered for sale without an indication of the previous damage.”

In a Consumer Alert, “Used Vehicle Buyers Watch For Flood Damage,” posted on the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/ag , Cox cautions consumers of the dangers posed by flood-damaged vehicles. He explains that without full disclosure, the buyer pays too much for the vehicle and risks costly repairs, hassles, and, most importantly, even physical danger. Cox urges consumers to have used vehicles thoroughly inspected by a mechanic before purchasing.

In addition to tips for detecting flood-damaged vehicles, the consumer alert references free tools to check the history of a used vehicle offered by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Carfax and AutoCheck. Even if there is not any history of flood damage listed for the vehicle, consumers still should look for signs of flood damage by:

  • Checking inside the trunk, including around the spare tire, for evidence of moisture, silt, or corrosion.
  • Checking the engine for signs of moisture damage, such as rust or silt or grass.
  • Giving the vehicle a smell test, both inside and out. If it smells musty, it could have been flood-damaged.
  • Examining the underside of the vehicle for signs of excess moisture, including evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late-model vehicles.
  • Checking inside dome lights, glove boxes, and other places where water might have been trapped for signs of moisture, mold, rust, or silt.
  • Checking the interior for signs of mismatched items such as carpeting or seat covers.
  • Testing all electrical components, including lights, signals, switches, and audio system.
  • Testing the air-conditioner and the heater.

Cox warned that his office will take action against any business that knowingly sells a storm-damaged vehicle to a Michigan consumer without disclosing the damage. Consumers who discover they unknowingly purchased a storm-damaged vehicle can file a complaint with Attorney General Cox’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-SOLVE-88 (1-877-765-8388) or online at http://www.michigan.gov/ag

The warnings and tips in the alert are consistent with Cox’s emphasis on proper disclosure in the used vehicle market. In October, thanks to the efforts of Attorney General Mike Cox, Michigan was the first State to make salvage title information available to the public from the State Farm Insurance Company settlement.

See also…

Insurance – Law Forum