New vehicles that have been under Midwest floodwaters or in East Coast hurricanes are headed to a used car lot near you. Most will not be labeled “flooded vehicle.” But reputable car dealers will inform prospective buyers that the new cars or trucks have been in floodwaters.
Here’s how it works. All the new vehicles you see in floods on TV are insured by the dealer. The insurance company pays off the loss to the dealer and then dries out the vehicle for sale. Then it’s sold at auction to dealers. Manufacturers replace the metal warranty plaque on the driver’s door post with a plaque that says there is “NO warranty.”
My experts say you cannot completely dry out a flooded car, and that the computer parts can suffer from just one drop of water. If the car or truck has been in saltwater, you don’t want to buy it.
Major dealers will tell you about the flood damage. But I went to a lot in Houston, Texas, that had many of the new cars from flooded areas, and the salesperson did not tell us about the flood history of the cars. He lied! We had hidden cameras shooting the entire sales pitch. I asked him why these new cars were almost half the price of other similar new cars. When I heard his answer, it was hard to keep from laughing out loud. He said, “Well, the folks at the car plant in Michigan made too many new cars, and they thought that the folks here in Houston, Texas, were such a nice group of people that they would just cut the price in half.” REALLY!
Then I asked the salesman what the plaque on the door post meant. He said, “Oh, nothing important; it just means the car is in such good shape that a warranty is not needed.” Apparently, in my undercover clothes I must look like I’m stupid about buying cars. It made a great warning story about flooded new vehicles for CBS TV Affiliate KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas.