Beware of Flooded Cars in Marketplace

Corrosion reduces value, may damage safety features

Countless vehicles were damaged in this month's flooding, and sometimes those cars end up on a used car lot.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. But an unsuspecting buyer could end up with a vehicle that's unsafe or worth far less than they paid.

Many of the electronic components in newer model vehicles are near the floorboard and should be thoroughly inspected to make sure they're not corroded from the water. Replacements can be pricey. An air bag sensor, for example, can run $1,200.

Buyers should be especially careful about car sales in the immediate aftermath of a flood.

"It takes a couple weeks or a month for insurance information to show up on those reports," said Mark Bilek with the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. "Secondarily, if the person sells the car themselves, if they clean it up and then sell it on the street, that insurance claim is never made."

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