While the damage from Hurricane Florence was mostly concentrated to the Carolinas, the effects may be felt across the country by people selling water-damaged items and vehicles, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
“Unfortunately, Arkansas has some unscrupulous car dealers who may not follow Arkansas law by providing the proper documentation when selling water-damaged vehicles,” Rutledge said. “It is common for these sellers to try to take advantage of consumers by selling damaged out-of-state vehicles without proper disclosure.”
Interested buyers should review a vehicle’s title for any flood damage reports.
“Arkansas law requires dealerships to place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged, but consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through a private sale,” according to the release. “Although the private seller is required by Arkansas law to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory for this type of transaction.”
Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans to consider before purchasing a new or used vehicle that could have been involved in the recent flooding.
• Ask the seller if the car has been damaged by hail or flood waters, and always check the car’s title history.
• Inspect the vehicle for water stains and mildew in the vents and behind the dashboard. Also look under the hood for signs of oxidation.
• Flood damaged cars may look fine because of cosmetic repairs, but they may have defective electrical systems, steering problems, faulty computers, faulty air bag systems and persistent mold problems.
• Have the car inspected by your own mechanic before you decide to buy.
• If the car has experienced significant damage and is considered a salvage vehicle, a buyer’s notification should be posted, and the price should be much lower than the price of a similar car with a clean title. Consider that you may have difficulty later selling a salvage vehicle and its value will be compromised.
Consumers who believe they have been sold a flood-damaged item that was not advertised as such should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.