Vehicle Buyers Beware of Storm Damage
April 6, 2016
Severe thunderstorms have hammered the Natural State the past few weeks causing hail damage and flooding. These storms may be quick but can cause lasting and severe damage to vehicles. Photos have been circulating of golf-ball sized hail and flooded parking lots, both of which wreak havoc on vehicles.
Dents and dings caused by hail damage seldom affect the mechanics of a vehicle, but if consumers are planning to participate in one of the many ‘hail sales’ that are being advertised, they should be prepared. Buyers should obtain a disclosure of the damage in writing from the seller and also check with their own insurance carriers to see how the hail damage may impact coverage of future repairs.
Meanwhile, consumers should review a vehicle’s title for any flood damage reports. Arkansas law requires dealerships to place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged, but consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Although the private seller is required by Arkansas law to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory for this type of transaction.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage Arkansans to research both sellers and vehicles before purchasing a car that could have damage from recent storms.
“Many car dealers follow Arkansas law and provide the proper documentation when selling hail or water damaged vehicles,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Some dealerships are even offering ‘hail sales’ to clean out their damaged inventory, but some unscrupulous sellers may be trying to take advantage of consumers by selling damaged vehicles without proper disclosure.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers shopping around for a new or used vehicle:
- Ask the seller if the car has been damaged by hail or flood waters, and always check the car’s title history.
- Inspect the vehicle for water stains and mildew in the vents and behind the dashboard. Also look under the hood for signs of oxidation.
- Flood damaged cars may look fine because of cosmetic repairs, but they may have defective electrical systems, steering problems, faulty computers, faulty air bag systems and persistent mold problems.
- Have the car inspected by your own mechanic before you decide to buy.
- If the car has experienced significant damage and is considered a salvage vehicle, a buyer’s notification should be posted, and the price should be much lower than the price of a similar car with a clean title. Consider that you may have difficulty later selling a salvage vehicle and its value will be compromised.
For more information on purchasing a vehicle and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.