Buyer Beware: Experts warn of used car sales after recent Hurricanes

FILE - This Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, photo shows flooded cars near the Addicks Reservoir as floodwaters from Harvey rise in Houston. Auto industry experts estimate that 500,000 to 1 million cars, trucks and SUVs were damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. Most will have so much water damage that they can’t be fixed, and insurance companies will declare them total losses. Yet the damaged cars could be retitled and sold to unsuspecting buyers nationwide. Experts warn against buying the cars because damage could be hidden for years before causing problems. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The destruction from Hurricane Harvey and Irma could lead to new problems for consumers in the market for a used car. Experts warn that buyers could start to see deals that appear too good to be true here in Oklahoma, and it could be because the car was ravaged by floodwaters.

FOX 25 has got your back with what you need to know to avoid buying a vehicle that has been flooded. Experts at Bob Moore Subaru warn that Carfax reports can take several months after an event like a hurricane to show up. Those also come from insurance claims which can run 30 to 60 days before the process.

Gunnar Poe, sales manager at Bob Moore Subaru says your best line of defense is buying from a reputable dealer that you know and trust. A known dealer will know what to inspect before selling a used car. They may spot things not necessarily on the surface.

"The computers lay under the floor boards of most of these cars now and if those are flooded, all warranty claims will be denied by the manufacturer," Poe said.

Many vehicles in the Houston area and Florida will be deemed flooded cars and totaled by insurance companies. Once those insurance claims start coming in, the supply and demand will go up nationwide. That will then drive up the price on used vehicles. Now is the time to buy.

"There's going to be a lot of cars that are needed used and so what I expect is going to happen is that the prices of used cars are going to go up significantly, because not only do you have Houston but you also have Florida," Poe said.

While Poe says he does not anticipate a large amount of flooded vehicles will make their way on used car lots in Oklahoma, he does anticipate that some will.

"If you're not sure about how to check something like that out, bring it to a reputable mechanic and ask them before you purchase the car," he said.

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