Consumer tips to help avoid buying flood-damaged cars

A.G. Schuette: Do your homework before buying used cars

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LANSING, Mich. - Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a consumer alert for Michigan residents who want to buy a car.

Schuette wants buyers to beware of flood-damaged cars in the national car market, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy's devastation.

"Michigan consumers should do their homework before they buy their next used car to avoid being duped by dealers selling refurbished cars without mentioning prior flood damages caused by Superstorm Sandy," said Schuette. "Floodwaters can destroy vital car components, so I urge all consumers to proceed with caution before spending their hard-earned cash on a waterlogged clunker."

Tips for car buyers:

  • Seek independent inspection: Flood damage may be hard to spot and spending a few extra dollars for a automotive technician (with no relation to the
    seller) to examine the car can make all the difference.
  • Research the vehicle's history: There are many resources that provide vehicle history indicating whether the vehicle was in a flood region or issued a salvage title.
    Consult the free National Motor Vehicle Title Information System at
  • Be aware of flood damage signs: To spot signs of flood damage, look for the vehicle having a mold smell, residue in the trunk, or premature rusting where it is
    not expected.
  • Review the title before purchase: Look for terms like "flood", "salvage" or other brands labeling the car as damaged.

But beware; never assume a clean title proves the vehicle is undamaged. The title may have been laundered across state lines or altered to conceal the brand.

Residents who believe they may have been tricked into buying a flood-damaged vehicle from a used car dealer are encouraged to file complaints online with the Secretary of State,Bureau of Information Security Regulatory Monitoring Division.

If consumers believe they have purchased a flood-damaged vehicle from an individual, they may also contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division toll-free: 887-765-8388.

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