Buyer beware: flood-damaged cars being sold to unsuspecting flood victims

Photo Credit: WWL-TV

BATON ROUGE (WWL-TV) – Consumer groups are warning people about flood-damaged vehicles as thousands of people look to replace the cars they lost in historic floods.

Towing companies in Baton Rouge were working around the clock to hauling away flood damaged vehicles.

The salvage yard at Roadrunner Towing in is packed with vehicles caught in the flood. More than 1,000 cars and trucks have been towed to the yard in recent days.

Owner Judy Smart said it’s difficult for her trucks to keep up with demand in the wake of the flooding.

“Some of  my guys are working 16-18 (hours) going home and sleeping for three or four hours and coming back out,” Smart said.

State Farm, Louisiana’s largest insurance company reported close to 19,000 auto claims, and that number continues to grow. A company spokesman said the vast majority of the vehicles are a total loss.

“As you know, today’s modern cars are full of electronic equipment and computer systems and often times when the water gets so high it swallows up that electronic equipment,” said Roszell Gadson of State Farm.

The American Automobile Association is warning car buyers to be aware of dishonest car dealers selling flood-damaged vehicles.

Don Redman of AAA advises buyers to use their senses of sight and smell when purchasing a used car and check for signs of water and mud in the vehicle.

“We see it time and time again where cars that were flooded out are quickly scooped up and into the market and sold to unsuspecting customers,” said Redman.

Judy Smart is not just the owner of Roadrunner Towing; she is also a flood victim. She said she lost her house and her car in the water and so did some of her children.

“It breaks my heart. We’ve been through this once before with the mess with Katrina,” said Smart. “It’s just heartbreaking. It really is.”

Some of the flood-damaged vehicles will be stripped for parts the rest will be crushed and used for scrap metal.

Companies also said because so many cars were damaged or destroyed in the flooding rental cars are now in short supply.

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