Metro Detroit residents: Beware of buying flood-damaged vehicles

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is warning metro Detroit residents about buying flood-damaged vehicles after the recent flooding in southeast Michigan. 

Vehicles with flood damage can appear on sale online or in the used car market away from the storm area, without obvious signs or mention of damage. 

The AG encourages customers to check the vehicle history by getting the VIN (vehicle identification number) and trace the history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. 

Here are a few signs of a car with flood damage: 

  • Musty or "over-perfumed" smells or signs of mold or mildew
  • Water stains, mud or residue in the trunk, under the carpet, floor mats, gas and brake pedals, and in hard-to-reach places difficult to clean 
  • Title or registration histories indicating the car was in a flood area
  • Car hesitates, runs rough, or shows signs of premature rust or corrosion in places where you wouldn't expect to see rust, such as the upper door hinges, trunk latches, and screws on the console.
  • Always physically inspect the vehicle's paper title before you buy. Check to see if it has been branded as "flood," "junk," "salvage," "rebuilt" or another brand indicating the vehicle was severely damaged. But beware; a clean title does not prove the car is undamaged. The title may have been ‘laundered' across state lines or altered to conceal the brand.

 To file a complaint about a car you believe has flood damage, contact the Consumer Protection Division at (888) 767-6424. 

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