Keep an Eye Out for ‘Katrina Cars’

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - If you're shopping for a car, or may be soon, you'll want to see this story.

Flood damaged cars are being sold right here in Tennessee and you probably won't know if you've bought one until it's too late.

But as Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman reports, there are things you should look out for before you buy.

"With flood damaged cars, they're a little bit harder to identify than a car that's been in an accident or that's had any kind of prior repairs,” says Shawn Stockwell, a buyer for CarMax. “Because they can clean up so well."

The water and wind from Katrina are long gone. But the vehicles often called ‘Katrina cars’ are still with us.

"This was something that I remember reading about or seeing on the news several years ago, but I didn't realize this is a problem again,” says Roy Andrews of Knoxville.

But there's more you can do to check on the car you're shopping besides kicking the tires and taking a test drive.

"Carfax! That's what it is. I think there maybe some info there that it's been in a flood or unusual title,” says Keith Rivard of Tellico Village.

Services like Carfax are great. But what if?

"Depending on whether there was an insurance settlement involved or you know whether it was even reported to Carfax or Autocheck. If it was never reported to Carfax or AutoCheck, it's not gonna hit the report,” explains Stockwell.

Besides a report, Shawn says check it out, "looking for mud and stuff that'd be really hard to clean up on top of the motor and stuff."

And take a look a the seatbelt, "being able to pull the seatbelt completely out and looking for water lines as well."

And under you feet, "then we'll pull up a trim piece and we'll peel back the carpet,” Stockwell suggests "There're just gonna clean, for the most part, clean up the main areas. You look under here and there's just nothing uncommon there."

Shawn says problems from a flood car could be immediate or down the road. And the biggest concerns are electrical.

Experts advise you to deal with a trusted car dealer and do your homework.

Checking Carfax is a good start, but you can also research vehicle history with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and through Autocheck.

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