TOMS RIVER – Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari is warning residents searching for a used car or truck to be extra cautious in the wake of the severe hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida.
“It’s possible some vehicles that were flooded in those storms could make their way north and be for sale in Ocean County and throughout New Jersey,” he said.
With the spate of recent hurricanes in the United States, it is estimated that almost half a million automobiles were flooded. In the past, flooded cars from regional storms have been found for sale across the country.
Vicari, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, recommended potential car buyers thoroughly investigate all used vehicles.
“Make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer who is licensed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Vicari said.
“Use common sense and go over the car yourself with a fine-tooth comb. If the car smells musty, it may have been in a flood,” he said. “Turn on all of the electronic systems to make sure everything is working properly.”
Buyers should also adjust the power seats and listen for any grating sounds indicating sand on the seat rails, he said.
Also, look close for rust spots in the wheel wells, body and any screws.
The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs offers a website listing known flood titled cars.
The link is available at NJconsumeraffairs.gov.
You can also perform a free vehicle flood check online with CARFAX (www.carfax.com) or the National Crime Insurance Bureau (www.nicb.org/).
“Not all flood cars may be on the database,” he said. “If no insurance claim was ever made or if the title was illegally “washed” the vehicle may appear to be a normal resale.”
Vicari said it is legal to sell a flood-damaged vehicle in New Jersey providing the title is clearly marked “Flood Vehicle”.
“Next to buying a home, the purchase of a vehicle is probably the biggest investment many people make,” Vicari said. “Use due diligence when buying any car. Getting stuck with a flood car can bring years of anguish as systems fail and the vehicle rusts away from the inside out.”