Experts urge caution as flood-damaged cars head to Tennessee


Cars flooded by hurricanes Harvey and Irma are heading to Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission.

The TMVC urged consumers to be cautious.

The commission said cars flooded with saltwater will continue to break down, even after they're cleaned. After major hurricanes, flood-damaged cars always pop up for sale in Tennessee.

“I think that's illegal and immoral,” said Michelle Langone, a student at Vanderbilt University. "I think that it's the consumer's right to know what they're buying and the product that they're getting."

That’s not always how the system works.

The titles of flood damaged cars have to be labeled as damaged, flooded, salvaged, or total loss in their home states. In some cases, flooded cars that cross state lines get brand new titles that don't always reflect the damage.

Michael Sadler, director of Toyota sales at Beaman Automotive said you have to protect yourself.

"Pull back the carpet,” Sadler said. “Make sure there is no wetness, no dampness, no mildew."

Sadler urged buyers to inspect vehicles from top to bottom and check the vehicle's history. He said if possible, buy from an established and reputable dealer that you can hold accountable.

"This vehicle goes through a 124-point inspection,” said Sadler, referencing a certified used car on the Beaman lot. “Carfax and history is pulled for this vehicle. You're guaranteed to have a very good vehicle that is ready to go."

If you're going to buy from a private seller, be extremely careful, the commission said, especially if the title is from a coastal state. If it seems like a deal that's too good to pass up, maybe it is.

"I would be like wow, this is too good to be true,” Langone said.

The Motor Vehicle Commission said it can take some consumer reporting sites up to 30 days to reflect a vehicle’s flood history.

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