Caveat Emptor: Will Water-Damaged Vehicles Flood the Used Market?

Everybody's got an angle on Katrina, and rightfully so. It's the most tragic thing in the United States that we've witnessed in our nigh-on thirty years. Being from California, we'd seen fire and we'd seen rain, but we've never seen anything like this hurricane. (Please, make the rhyming stop! And the James Taylor references, too. Thanks.) One concern, now that things are calming down a bit in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region, is that vehicles damaged by the flood will be cosmetically repaired and re-sold to unsuspecting buyers, both in the Gulf and elsewhere in the US.

Because of the complex electronics in today's cars, most insurance companies simply write 'em off if the water rises above the dashboard, but enterprising crooks often retitle the cars elsewhere using forged paperwork. This time around, however paradoxically the flooding works in prospective buyers' favor is that as opposed to most of the flash flash flooding that comes along with hurricanes, the cars in New Orleans, especially, have been sitting in a fetid, toxic soup for days on end, rendering them useful only for parts and/or crushing.

Storm cars could take consumers for a ride [MSNBC]

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