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May 1, 2013

AAA warns that flood-damaged cars could be coming to Oklahoma

NORMAN — Flooding has been occurring in nearby states and AAA cautions car buyers about the danger of being duped into purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle.

When vehicle owners find cars damaged by floods, they make claims to ther insurance companies. In many cases, insurance companies “total” flood-damaged vehicles which are then sold to salvage companies. Rather than being disassembled for parts, some of these vehicles are purchased by individuals who restore them to operating condition — with varying levels of expertise. After being “repaired,” these vehicles often end up on used car lots in Oklahoma and other states.

AAA Tips…How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Vehicle

· Obtain a CARFAX Vehicle History Report – This report can potentially reveal if the vehicle has been involved in a flood, major crash or fire, although incidents are occasionally not reported officially and don’t make their way onto the CARFAX report.

· Engage your sense of smell to detect any damp or musty odors inside the vehicle.

· Has the carpet or upholstery been replaced or recently shampooed? Pull back the carpet in different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains.

· Inspect the underside of the dashboard for signs of mud and dirt. This is a particularly hard area to clean.

· Look under the vehicle for corrosion. It is uncommon to find corrosion in newer vehicles and those that are owned or sold in southern states.

· Open doors, hood and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping. Pay special attention to small spaces and crevices that are difficult to clean.

· Check all warning lights, window motors and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, it combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.

· Always have the vehicle inspected by a quality repair facility prior to purchasing. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities are located across the United States. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair.

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