Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

HOW NOT TO BUY A STORM DAMAGED VEHICLE

Here we are in the middle of Hurricane Season 2017, Florida for the most part has thankfully been unscathed so far but just to our west, Texas has gotten hammered. When most folks see pictures of hurricane damaged vehicles, we see trees laying on them or vehicles that have been turned upside down or just hammered with debris flying through the skies. These vehicles are usually easily identified and if they had been “totaled” and then repaired they should in fact have a salvage title.

After Charley, many vehicles were “totaled” because the insurance adjusters or companies had decided that it was more prudent and economical to pay off these losses rather than to repair or refurbish. As a result, many vehicles that had mostly cosmetic issues were repaired and or sold some with salvage titles and some through the art of smoking mirrors were retitled in other states and then retitled in Florida with “clean titles”. These are the vehicles that we need to watch for.

In a few months, the used car market will have a huge wave of new vehicles to choose from. Obviously, every prudent shopper will look to see if these new vehicles came from the Houston area and red flags will fly everywhere. These are not the vehicles of which I am speaking. As everyone has been watching Texas getting hit with high winds and debris but how many of you, my readers have been watching the flooding that has been going around the southwest coast of Florida. These are the vehicles that will be cleaned and traded in or wholesaled and dried and primped and made to look beautiful for those who cannot purchase a new vehicle and are forced to buy at buy here -pay here lots, or from advertisers in the local papers that will buy and flip these cars and pawn them off as good deals and laugh on their way to the bank.

How do you as consumers protect yourself?

First and most important, remember if the deal looks just too good to be true is probably is. Second, CARFAX, CARFAX, CARFAX! Find out when these vehicles hit the block and from which area of the state did they originate from. If they came from coastal areas that are prone to flooding BEWARE and BE SMART. Get as much information as you can about these vehicles including contacting the previous owners or service providers. This is not hard, you would be shocked at how much information is left in vehicles in glove boxes or under the seats etc.

Third and MOST important, have the vehicle inspected by a reputable service provider. This inspection should take up to two hours to complete and should have written findings and specifications clearly marked as well as pictures of trouble areas. Expect to pay between $150.00 and $200.00 for this inspection, but it may save you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.
Obviously, this should be reserved for your final choice and not for every vehicle you looked at.

As a consumer, here are some simple things that you can check by yourself:

  1. Check for signs or smells of mold, an overpowering stench of Febreze type cleaners is a sure sign of a coverup.
  2. Push your finger deep into the carpeting or under it and feel the jute that is between the carpet and the floorboard. If it is wet or spongy or breaks apart easily it has been wet.
  3. There are a myriad of control modules under the seats now, look under there and look for water stains or discolorations on the wiring, another sign of a car trying to be a submarine.
  4. Check and recheck ALL the functions that originate on the door panels, such as express up and down windows, memory seats, sluggish window or mirror operations, etc. If you find issues expect an honest answer and an estimate to bring it up to snuff. The door controls on a later model Cadillac, vintage 2007 and up, is all electronically controlled. You may find that you will not be able to open the car from the outside.

As with everything else I’ve run out of space. If you ever have any question please do not hesitate to contact us through our web site greggsauto.net or call us at 941-575-8868.

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Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services