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Officials: Beware of flood-damaged vehicles that may be coming to Kansas

A car is submerged in floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. State officials in Kansas are warning consumers to watch out for flood-damaged vehicles that may be making their way to Kansas and are being offered well below market value in private sales.
A car is submerged in floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. State officials in Kansas are warning consumers to watch out for flood-damaged vehicles that may be making their way to Kansas and are being offered well below market value in private sales. AP

State officials are warning residents to be wary of formerly water-logged vehicles that may be making their way to Kansas from the flood-ravaged Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Vehicles that have sustained severe water damage may have dangerous — even potentially deadly — defects not visible to potential buyers, Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said in a prepared statement. Defects caused by water damage often don’t appear until six to twelve months after the flooding.

People who buy cars from dealerships should be protected, Williams said, because licensed dealers are required to disclose all defects and salvage brands during a sale. But those who conduct private sales are not required to disclose a vehicle’s history.

A couple of things to watch out for, Williams said: vehicles advertised well below what the car is worth, or an inspection report or evidence of a good title that predates the recent hurricanes.

Kansas law requires all vehicles registering from out of state to undergo an inspection by the Kansas Highway Patrol, Williams said, those inspections are performed after the purchase and thus do not protect the buyer from risk.

State officials recommend that potential buyers conduct a vehicle history check if it is from a state affected by flooding. In addition, have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle.

Buyers can also identify and brand flood-damaged vehicles through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINcheck or other services available through entities such as Carfax or Autocheck.

But consumers need to keep in mind that it can take a month or two for vehicle histories to be updated, Williams said.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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