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Waterlogged Cars to Flood Scrapyards Once Harvey Dries Up

Image: Waterlogged Cars to Flood Scrapyards Once Harvey Dries Up

An abandoned car near Houston, Texas. (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 Aug 2017 10:31 AM

A half-million waterlogged cars, trucks, and other vehicles may be left for scrap after Hurricane Harvey, which has caused record flooding throughout Southeast Texas, including vehicle-happy Houston, CNBC reported.

Some of them could come back to life and be for sale, so buyer beware.

The total number of vehicles expected to sustain substantial water damage from the hurricane is being estimated at 500,000, according to Cox Automotive, twice the number that were scrapped after Hurricane Sandy.

CNBC noted that while the New York metropolitan area has more residents than Houston, the number of vehicles per household in Houston and surrounding areas are much higher.

"This is worse than Hurricane Sandy," Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, told CNBC. "Sandy was bad, but the flooding with Hurricane Harvey could impact far more vehicles."

The Detroit News said on Tuesday that Texas is the auto industry's second-largest market in the nation, behind California, with the flood water not just affecting motorists, but dealers with soaked inventory.

"We've only just begun to get to a handful of our stores," Marc Cannon, AutoNation's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told the News. "It's an exercise of going store-by-store and car-by-car so we can access the damage and figure out what needs to be done.”

"It's a fluid situation. It's still raining there. This is a unique, huge situation that has engulfed that whole community."

Once the flood waters recede, dealing with the water-damaged vehicle will represent a challenge to customers and sellers. CNBC said that while the resale of repaired flooded cars is not illegal, sellers must disclose flood damage to potential customers.

Buyer beware problems cropped up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of rebuilt flood vehicles were sold to unsuspecting buyers with titles that had been washed or reissued in a different state, CNBC reported.

"We didn't see this on a huge scale until Hurricane Katrina," Frank Scafidi, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, told CNBC. "Since then the public awareness of the problem is greater, but with thousands of flooded vehicles it's hard to prevent this from happening."

Karen Phillips, general counsel for the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, told the Detroit News that flooded vehicles at auto lots will be inspected by insurance companies to determine if they are "undeliverable" and need to be demolished or receive a "salvage" title to alert potential buyers of the fact it had been damaged.

"Fortunately, the consumer protections have improved over time, but this ongoing tragedy is a reminder for all shoppers to be vigilant and diligent when purchasing a used car," Jeff Bartlett, deputy editor for autos at Consumer Reports, told the newspaper. "And to factor an inspection by a professional mechanic who is not associated with the sale."

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A half-million waterlogged cars, trucks, and other vehicles may be left for scrap after Hurricane Harvey, which has caused record flooding in vehicle-happy Houston, Texas.
waterlogged, cars, scrapyard, harvey
Wednesday, 30 Aug 2017 10:31 AM
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