Why the used car market has become more dangerous for buyers

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In the Orlando-area neighborhood of Orlo Vista, residents must drive around flood-damaged cars, set carpool schedules to make sure everyone gets to school and work. But it might get harder soon.

Mechanics warn that even cars that are still functional after a flood could start to see problems later.

Ametha Medor, who lives in Orlo Vista, lost her car in Hurricane Ian.

“The engine is wrong, everything is wrong,” she explained. “I need help.”

Medor says she just paid for this car a few months ago. She bought it new in 2019 and says her insurance doesn’t give her enough money to keep up with 2022 prices.

That means it will turn to the used-car market – something Carfax says people should be wary of right now.

“We are concerned, especially after Hurricane Ian, because the current used car market – we have never seen conditions like this before,” said Emilie Voss, director of public relations for Carfax. We’re at record prices and stocks are so low that unfortunately you can bet the scammers are going to take advantage.”

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Carfax estimates that more than 350,000 cars were damaged by Hurricane Ian.

And many of them will be offered for sale to unsuspecting customers.

“These vehicles – most of them – are literally rotting from the inside. They have electrical, mechanical, health, safety issues. Things like, maybe the brakes aren’t working properly or the airbags don’t deploy in an emergency, or there are bacteria growing in the ventilation system,” Voss said.

FOX 35 spoke to several Central Florida mechanics who confirmed that hidden flood damage is a problem in the used car market.

They and Carfax all said it was important to have any used car inspected by a mechanic before buying it. Joseph Cox, owner of Joe’s Auto Repair, insisted on this point.

We have customers from time to time who bring in a vehicle that they thought was okay, and unfortunately we found things that probably would have made them decide not to buy it,” Cox said.

Cox says many parts of the car are extremely sensitive to water.

“There are a lot of computers in vehicles these days. Many of the ones on the outside may look good, but they may have water intrusion which can cause damage. And even if you don’t see the effect now, these can come out later,” he said. underline. “Depending on the severity of the flood, the typical things are damage to the wiring – the wire, which contains copper, can corrode. cause trouble.”

Cox says mold and mildew are also big problems.

“The rug usually has a mat underneath that even if you try to suck the water out of it, that mat underneath still gets soaked and there may still be water getting into the little cracks and crevices and causes rust.”

Carfax’s full reports are chargeable, but the company offers a free service that lets you check to see if there’s any evidence of a car damaged in a flood. All you need to do is enter the car’s VIN and your email address. The whole process takes a few seconds.

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