• Karolena Serratos

Be Cautious when Purchasing Used Car After Flooding


Perhaps your vehicle was declared a total loss in Houston’s recent major flooding or maybe you are just in the market for a new car. Many Houstonians are worried that they could become a victim of fraud by purchasing a flood vehicle.

Check out the interview done by Channel 2 KPRC Local 2 News aimed to help consumers identify flood-damaged vehicles, with yours truly included in the segment!

Run the car’s VIN through a service where vehicle history is collected by using the vehicle’s identification number such as VIN Check, CARFAX, AutoCheck, etc. These services are fed by insurance records, Department of Motor Vehicles records, and voluntarily by select shops. If a vehicle was fixed ‘out-of-pocket’ and not reported to insurance, the damage will not appear on the vehicle’s VIN report.

Title Washing is when a vehicle goes to auction (in most cases a total loss) and in a scheme to have the flood stamp removed from vehicle paper work; crooks retitle the vehicle in a series of different states until it is finally sold and without the flood history appearing. In majority of cases these vehicles end up being sold out of state from where the flooding had occurred.

Be sure to research the dealership you are thinking about buying the car from by checking their BBB status, online reviews, and referrals from others. It is extremely important to have the car inspected by a certified automotive professional before purchasing the vehicle. Majority of dealerships will not have a problem with you wanting a third party inspection—if they are hesitant to corporate be wary. Also in many cases you can have them provide a paper stating whether or not to their knowledge if the vehicle had been involved in a flood. Ask if they had taken measures to ensure the vehicle is flood free as claimed and if they would be willing to issue that in writing as well.

If you would like some tips for preliminary checks you yourself can do, check out last week’s blog post!