121 A little warning from someone who knows.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

Back in the 50's New England took two hits from hurricanes that drove sea water into coastal towns. I was overseas and so knew almost nothing about it. When I was getting ready to return from overseas in 1961 I wrote home and told them I was selling my car because it was just not worth the trouble of trying to ship it. It was getting old anyway, so I asked them to find something used but reliable.

My brother Charlie went to all the trouble of finding a car for us while we were traveling home. It was a 1956 Studebaker that he bought for a remarkably low price. There was considerable rust on the splash panels, but other than that it looked okay.

I drove that car all the way across the country. It seemed to have very little guts on the hills despite a V-8 engine. I kept it for a while in California until it started to fall apart. The gas line broke, something I'd never even heard of before. The doors started to rust out. The metal under the rubber mat in the trunk looked like a rust farm. All kinds of improbable engine troubles cropped up. I traded it in on a 1960 Mercury Comet. Nice car.

I didn't get much for it on a trade-in, but it wasn't worth much. What surprised me was when the car salesman told me they were going to scrap it and asked me, "When was it flooded?"


"Yes, didn't you know? Your car has been under water, and under sea water at that. The chances are it was totaled by a crooked insurance company, fixed up, and resold."

I learned that after all major hurricanes the sleaze balls come out from under their rocks. It happened after Katrina, for example, and it's happening again. I thought I'd warn you about it because Phoenix is a BIG auction location.

According to the Insurance Crime Bureau the crooks wait until the vehicles are declared a total loss. Then specialized firms swoop in on behalf of insurance companies, tow away the cars, spruce them up, and resell them.

The trouble is they are junk. Once salt water has time to get into everything it is only a matter of time before the car literally falls part. Take my word for it; I know.

Don't think that some of them won't show up here in Arizona. This is a big auction state, and a natural target for crooks who know you won't be expecting a car to have been flooded. Federal legislation that would have required total-loss status to be affixed permanently to a car’s title was introduced in Congress before and after Hurricane Katrina, but it was never passed.

The foreign market for flood cars is also booming. There is nothing to stop crooks from taking flood cars into Mexico, driving them across the border, and selling them here. Expect it; it's going to to happen.

The best way to be safe is to refuse to buy a used car if you don't know for certain has spent its life here in the nice dry west, or which doesn't come with a proven record of where it has been.

Chances are that if it's a bargain, it ain't a bargain!

Just thought I'd warn you.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

Want to bet that within the next six months someone comes on the forum and grouches about a flood car? With all the flooding there was there are going to be thousands of them, and the crooks know that we won't be expecting to see them in Arizona.


Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

Flooded cars were being sold in Arizona over 20 yrs. ago. Nothing new. If you see a price for a car that you think is a bargain. Watch out.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Good advice, Pat.

The trouble with something like this is that it is so insidious. There you are, out looking at a good used car. You browse around the lot, see something you like, take it for a drive, give it a careful look, and finally decide that you like it. What's missing is any history of the vehicle: Where was it first purchased? When? Who bought it? What happened next? Even if you know a lot about cars, if you don't know exactly what to look for you can get taken.

The problem is the re-titling. That should be illegal.

I'd be in favor of a national registry system run by the auto industry. A system that can be accessed on the net, showing--by VIN number--the whole history of a car. That would make it a lot harder for this stuff to happen.

You have to ask yourself how Congress gets away with ignoring things like this.


Dan Haapala 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, It's not the job of Congress, its the job of the State. We'd all like to pass the buck up the hill. but states have to protect themselves from other states and most importantly from the Federal government. ...'Most importantly from the Federal government." Tom, I have come to believe that the most important thing people can do to insure our freedom, is to break down and stop Federalism. We were never intended to governed from the Top down, but rather from the bottom up. We need to get back there.


Kim Chittick 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, I am not entirely certain that I am correct, however, isn't your suggestion of a "national registry for cars using the vin" what Carfax is? A few years ago, hubby and I decided that I needed a bigger car for running aorund doing my volunteer stuff and the Corvette just wasn't cutting it. We'd always had good luck with Honda's and I liked the Cr-v. Found exactly what I wanted, except it had a scuff on the front bumper. Dealer said that was just where one of the lot guys had scraped one of the lot bumpers. It was a good deal, although I had misgivings because they could not provide a CarFax report. They said their system was "down". It was a good, not great, deal, so we went ahead and bought it. Fast forward a couple of years, I am ready for a new car. I go to a different Honda dealer, pick out what I want and tell them that I plan on trading in my old Honda. Sales guy goes away and upon returning, informs me that they are not interested in my old car, as it has been in an accident. Turns out, my car had been in a slow speed, head on collision, before the loan had been approved for the original purchaser. Vehicle was returned to the dealer, dealer performed only the repairs that were necessary, and re-sold it to me...dummy that I am for ignoring my mis-givings. I went to the original dealer, raised holy...heck. Placed a call to Honda corporate. Corporate ended up making it right; I got a new Cr-v out of it and a promise that the other one would not be re-sold. Moral of the story, ALWAYS listen to your instincts!!!


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

I was opening a container from France that held big boom trucks (Forklifts with extending booms instead of vertical masts), and when the latch was far enough along to let the doors pop open both swung with great force, knocking one fellow down, and two more was knocked down by all the water that gushed out into the work bay. I had felt something amiss, and had jumped out of the way.

The container was nearly 3 ft. deep in sea water. Of course the machines were trashed. They were brand new, or where.

I couldn't figure how the trucker got a container with that much weight in it, past customs or over the 200 + miles to our location. Sea water weights a staggering 67 lbs. per cubic ft. and that figures out to be over 70,000 lbs. plus the weight of the 2 forklifts. We guessed the total container weight to be about 151,000 lbs., when it was rated for 73,000 lbs.

Anyway, the salt water had trashed all the electronics. All the hydraulic cylinders (10 in total) were ruined. The hydraulic pumps and tanks, plus all the hoses were ruined, and the axles were all toast, as well. We salvaged the frames, forks, carriages, and engines that was about it.

We found out that the ship stacked high with all those containers hit a storm between Spain and the Azores. It nearly sank, facing 40 ft. waves that continually broke over bow of the heavily loaded ship, and the rag top containers were filled that way.


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