Beware storm-damage when car shopping

Beware storm-damage when car shopping

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After Superstorm Sandy, a lot of cars and trucks were left with shattered windows, broken glass on the seats, leaves jammed in vents, and worst of all, flood damage.

So if you are looking to buy a used car, you may want to be wary of the one that looks perfect, experts say.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) Monday announced revised estimates for the number of vehicles damaged as a result of Sandy.

The current estimate of vehicles damaged as a result of Sandy hit the 230,000 mark as claims processed by insurance companies have been reviewed and analyzed. New York had the most vehicles affected by the storm with 130,000 while New Jersey generated 60,000 claims.

The remaining 40,000 were reported from Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

It is important to note that these are preliminary figures and may change as additional claims are received and processed. Moreover, there is no determination as to the extent of damage to these vehicles. They could have sustained minor paint scratches from flying debris, or have been under water for days and rendered total losses.

CarFax says that, historically, roughly half of the cars damaged in a storm get cleaned up and returned to the road.

So if you're looking to buy used, don't get 'used'.   CarFax says make sure you do three things: test driving the car, get a VIN report, and pay an independent mechanic to check out your vehicle.

AAA's Robert Sinclair Jr. says there no better person to check your car than you: Pull up the carpet, beware a musty odor, check that the windows aren't fogged, and look for the obvious signs of flood damage to major components such as the engine, drive train, and braking systems.

Sinclair says that salt water is highly corrosive and when mixed with sand wreaks havoc on many systems in vehicle.

While car report sites can be helpful, they won't turn up issues that didn't have a police report or insurance claim.

Free car report sites:

CarFax

AutoCheck

VinCheck

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