Ocean County Press Release

TOMS RIVER – Looking for a used car or truck? Look carefully, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari warned.

"With the multiple hurricanes striking the south and the Gulf Coast, some flooded and water-damaged vehicles may be making their way to the market," Vicari said.

Car titles search company Carfax estimates nearly half a million water-damaged cars may be on the road with 5,000 or more added from the recent hurricanes and tropical storms that struck the southern states.

Vicari, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, recommended potential car buyers thoroughly investigate all used vehicles.

"Make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer who is licensed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and don't be afraid to ask questions," Vicari said. "Use common sense and go over the car yourself with a fine-tooth comb. If the car smells musty, it may have been in a flood. Turn on all of the electronic systems to make sure everything is working properly."

Buyers should also adjust the power seats and listen for any grating sounds indicating sand on the seat rails, he said.

Also, look close for rust spots in the wheel wells, body and any screws.

"Once a car is waterlogged it will never be the same," he said. "The vehicle can fail at any time."
Vicari said the problem is worsened by a nation-wide shortage of used vehicles.

"The pandemic saw a reduction in new car production, so more people are turning to used vehicles," he said.

Carfax reported that as many as 25,000 water-damaged cars may have already washed up in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs offers online tips to help spot a flood car at NJconsumeraffairs.gov.

You can also perform a free vehicle flood check online with CARFAX (www.carfax.com) or the National Insurance Crime Bureau (www.nicb.org/).

"Not all flood cars may be on the database," Vicari said. "If no insurance claim was ever made or if the title was illegally ‘washed' the vehicle may appear to be a normal resale."

Vicari said it is legal to sell a flood-damaged vehicle in New Jersey providing the title is clearly marked "Flood Vehicle".

"Next to buying a home, the purchase of a vehicle is probably the biggest investment many people make," Vicari said. "Use due diligence when buying any car. Getting stuck with a flood car can bring years of anguish as systems fail and the vehicle rusts away from the inside out."

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