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In The Market For A Used Car? Experts Say Make Sure It Wasn’t Damaged By Flooding

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WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Mechanics across the Tri-State Area are getting an influx of vehicles with water damage from last week’s storm, and experts warn if you’re in the market for a used car, beware, because those water-logged, damaged cars could end up being resold.

Cars sitting soaked and stranded in the floodwaters are among stunning scenes from last week’s storm.

Days later, mechanics remain flooded with cars to repair.

Matthew Stern, the owner of Mirror Image Detailing in West Orange, says even a little water can do a lot of damage.

“Just at this level, at times could be more than enough to provide a short circuit and ruin different electrical functions of your vehicle,” he told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

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He says on the surface it can look dry, but it’s crucial to get a closer look. In one vehicle, water was trapped underneath the carpet.

“Turns into mold, mildew and very terrible odor,” Stern said.

Mechanics say it’s important to have your car inspected after a flood, and if you’re in the market for a used car, experts say, buyer beware.

“The problem is that if a flood-damaged car, whether it be from Louisiana or Westchester County, gets shipped to a different part of the country, then that vehicle could be sold as a legitimate used car,” Consumer Reports automotive specialist Mike Quincy said.

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Quincy along with the New York State DMV warn some sellers will try to hide damage by taking the car to get a new title in a different state. They recommend you check if the title was issued during hurricane periods — in this case, September — and use resources to learn more.

“They can go to the national motor vehicle title information system, they can go to VINCheck, they can go to Carfax,” Quincy said.

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Ida plus pandemic production shortages is making for a perfect storm for rental companies and dealers, too.

“I know couple of the local dealerships right over in Bridgewater, they were hit hard with the water … Even the dealerships with cars, do they even have enough for people, as well? So this is statewide, not just here,” said John Bentz, with the Manville Office of Emergency Management.

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It may be a bumpy ride, but experts hope these tips will help car buyers avoid major roadblocks.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a partnership with ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to help people who lost cars get rides. Click here for more information.

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