Vehicles flooded by Sandy make way back into market

Vehicles flooded by Sandy make way back into market

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ATLANTA -

It's been about three months since Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of New York and New Jersey. Nearly 250,000 new and used vehicles were damaged in the storm, and those flooded cars could be making their way to car lots in our area.

Not all the flooded cars up north will make their way to a scrap heap. Many will be auctioned, moved to a state with weak title laws, and then re-sold to consumers like you.

Eddie Ehlert is a mechanic who's seen his fair share of flooded cars.

"By and large, if it's been under salt water, it's not a car you want," said Ehlert

The damaged vehicles have had time to be auctioned, title washed, and shuffled back onto car lots in Georgia.

"Mostly they've just started to leave the impound lots and find their way back into the marketplace," Ehlert said.

Some used car dealerships, like Carmax, pride themselves on inspecting the cars they buy and sell.

"Frame and flood damage are two vehicles we guarantee we do not sell on our front lot," said Markus Neudorfer of Carmax.

Why? A flood-damaged car could easily leave you high and dry.

"If you buy it in an as-is, no warranty situation and drive it away, then you may have had it a couple of weeks before you realize there's really something terrible wrong with it," said Ehlert. "It's pretty scary because the guy who's trying to make money off this car has already cleaned everything you're likely to see and everything and deodorized it as much as possible."

There are places you can look -- watch for rust, corrosion and water marks.

"Sometimes you can pull up the seatbelts and see that line where the water had receded back down. In the spare tire well, sometimes you'll have sand, or water will have gotten in there and sand is left. Water should never get into the trunks," said Neudorfer.

Experts also suggest asking for help.

"If you don't have a clear title trace on it, if you don't know what you're looking at, spend the money and have someone who does know what they're looking at," suggested Ehlert.

Another tip -- always check the vehicle's history report. It's a great way to see where a car has been, how many owners its had, if it's been in any accidents, or auctioned as a salvaged vehicle. The state New Jersey recently set up a website database where you can search by manufacturer and track down a car damaged in a flood. Click here for more information.

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