How to avoid buying washed-up vehicles?

What is a washed-up vehicle?

Natural disasters are inevitable occurrences that leave people in devastation. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods cause enormous damage to people, sometimes leaving them with nothing. For instance, natural disasters caused $306bn in total damage across America in 2017. Unfortunately, there are people who make benefit from the dramatic situation and make the damages caused by natural disasters work for them. And these people are car dealers. Flood vehicles or as they are usually referred, washed-up vehicles, represent a vested interest for some dishonest car dealers to defraud undoubting consumers.

The term washed-up is used to define a vehicle that has been submerged in flood waters partially or completely and is no longer operable. The water may have damaged the engine, transmissions or other mechanical parts that hinder its use and safety. So, the insurance company buys the damaged vehicle and sells it as a ‘’salvage’’ in a car auction. Here is when dishonest car dealers make use of the situation. They buy the washed-up car, clean and repair it a little bit, then transport it to other states that were unaffected by the flood. Afterward, they sell the washed-up vehicle to undoubting consumers without disclosing its ‘’salvaged’’ status. This is a legally punishable act, known as “title washing.” In a nutshell, title washing hides the history of a vehicle that’s been salvaged.

Tips to avoid buying a washed-up vehicle

Washed-up vehicles are sold both by individual car sellers and car dealers. So, purchasing a car on a lot will not necessarily ensure it’s title has not been washed. Yet, hardly a car is cleaned so spotlessly that a careful examiner is unable to detect it. Here are some useful tips that will help you to spot salvaged vehicles easily:

  • Give the car dealer the benefit of the doubt and check everything yourself. Inspect the vehicle for water stains, mildew, and sand. New carpet in an old vehicle may be another red flag.
  • If something in dealer’s words smells fishy to you, then trust your smell and do a small smelling test. A heavy smell of cleaners and disinfectants may indicate that someone is trying to mask a mold odor.
  • Check door speakers and interior upholstery as the flood will often damage them.
  • Pull the rubber pad off the brake and gas pedals to look for rust signs.
  • Ask about the vehicle’s history.
  • Look under the hood in search of oxidation signs.

If you suspect you have become a victim of dishonest dealers and purchased a washed-up car, the most clever thing to do is to consult an experienced dealer fraud attorney. The skillful and qualified dealer fraud attorneys at the Margarian Law firm have handled a range of dealer fraud cases successfully and are eager to stand up for your rights to get the best outcome for your case.