Valley Car Lot Tries to Avoid Purchase of Flood Damaged Vehicles

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DONNA – According to Carfax.com, at least 325,510 flood damaged vehicles are in use in the United States.

One Rio Grande Valley car lot manager told CHANNEL 5 NEWS they make a point to purchase vehicles from areas located far away from Texas and Florida.

“We mainly try to stay away from locations that were affected by the hurricane," said Faustino Cruz. "We purchase on locations mainly like Washington, Chicago, North Carolina. Locations like that so we can stay away from that kind of merchandise.”

The company Cruz works for buys cars at auctions. Before they make the decision to purchase, they search for the signs of a flood damaged car.

“We check the oil to make sure it doesn’t have water in the oil," said Cruz. "We make sure that the interior doesn’t smell like if it’s wet and make sure that all the instruments inside the vehicle are working fine.”

If Cruz happens to buy a suspected flood damaged car, he has a contingency plan.

Auction cars usually fall into one of three categories: green light, yellow light and red light.

Green light cars are considered ready to drive and subject to a process called “arbitration.”

The National Auto Auction Association describes it like this:

“If auction determine that the transaction is not fair and ethical to either party, the seller and the buyer agree that auction may cancel the sale, at its sole discretion.”

“Sometimes we use that to protect ourselves and to avoid any vehicles that are going to give us problems in the future," said Cruz. "So let’s say it was flooded, and it didn’t mention and it was green light, we can put it through arbitration and send it back.”

Cruz encourages consumers to do their homework.

Carfax warns consumers to be on the lookout for a process called, “title washing.” This happens when someone leaves flood damage off a car’s title history and then tries to sell the vehicle.

Carfax recommends asking your dealer specifically if a vehicle was damaged in a flood, then get a clear answer in writing.

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