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Old 11-10-2017, 04:02 PM   #1
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Default How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Here’s a question I thought of while reading “Is anyone collecting Saturns?“
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=223534

How would you go about verifying a prospective vehicle was not exposed to flood water?

For example, if a $39.99 CarFax Report reads,
TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE
Vehicle declared a total loss
by an insurance company
Non-collision damage reported
okay, so...CarFax can not and will not tell us specifically why the car was considered a TOTAL LOSS, yet the car has a “REBUILT” title

Prized cars can be found in TN and KY. ...and we drive there to get them.

Is there any way to get your eyes on a paper-trail to assure yourself that you are not driving to look at a
floodvictim.

I am referring to a TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE with a “REBUILT” title issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Thank you
8, 9 or 10-hour drive is a long way to travel.

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Old 11-10-2017, 05:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

There is no 100% paper trail and it is a simple task to completely clean the title.

IF you can actually trace all the various states and locations titled then you can look up floods and go from there.

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Old 11-10-2017, 08:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Do you mean that I can use the V.I.N. to access something somewhere that will tell me the car was flooded?

You would think the seller would be all over this. How do they expect to sell the car ever?

Do you mean to say I could look up “weather events” that occurred immediately preceding the car being declared a total loss by the insurance company?

What if the damage was caused by hail even though there was biblical flooding in the area? Why would a state DMV re-title the vehicle as REPAIRED and not leave a trace for CarFax as to why the vehicle was considered a total loss?

Do I ask too much here?

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Last edited by bumpdraft; 11-10-2017 at 08:31 PM..

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Old 11-10-2017, 08:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

No, AutoCheck and CarFacts should show every state and county where it was ever licensed and this and the dates will tell you IF there was a flood and a Total Loss insurance claim is a very good clue. Other than that it is visual inspection time. The S Series is more or less flood proof compared to many other cars as long as the water was not too deep. Just pull the outer door panel and look for silt.

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Old 11-10-2017, 08:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Thank you.

The seller said it was hail damage. I asked for pictures of hail damage and the seller said they really don’t show in a picture.
Maybe that is also a clue.

So, if the DMV will not provide specifics as to why a vehicle was considered a total loss by the insurance company, and what was done to fix the problem and get the vehicle past state-approved inspection so that it could be re-titled for use on public roads, then the whole thing is a bit of a farce
...and all vehicles with a REBUILT Title should be sold only to the seller’s neighbor.
I must be missing something here

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Old 11-10-2017, 09:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdraft View Post
Do you mean that I can use the V.I.N. to access something somewhere that will tell me the car was flooded?

You would think the seller would be all over this. How do they expect to sell the car ever?

Do you mean to say I could look up “weather events” that occurred immediately preceding the car being declared a total loss by the insurance company?

What if the damage was caused by hail even though there was biblical flooding in the area? Why would a state DMV re-title the vehicle as REPAIRED and not leave a trace for CarFax as to why the vehicle was considered a total loss?

Do I ask too much here?
The seller is the insurance company and they auction it off at a dealer only entry auction. The "dealer" then "reconstructs or salvages the car". At that point it moves out of state to a state that does not mark titles as Reconstructed or Salvaged. Now that low mileage low priced gem is on its way to the rust/snow belt to sell.

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Old 11-10-2017, 09:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The seller is the insurance company and they auction it off at a dealer only entry auction. The "dealer" then "reconstructs or salvages the car". At that point it moves out of state to a state that does not mark titles as Reconstructed or Salvaged. Now that low mileage low priced gem is on its way to the rust/snow belt to sell.
I can see that happening.

What if the car never left the state. For a car that has had only one owner, what if the insurance company declared the vehicle a TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE and then “sold” it to the policy holder, the owner of the car? The car never crossed state lines.
Why would there be no paper-trail detailing why the car was declared a total loss? In issuing a REBUILT title, the state has said the car is road-worthy.
...and yet offers no explanation of what was wrong with the car that caused it to be declared a TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE.

For example:
ISSUE: Car was submerged 36 hours
REMEDY: Car was vacuumed and pine scent air-freshener hung from mirror.

Thank you for your time. I guess it’s still buyer beware.

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Old 11-10-2017, 10:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Very few owners will buy it back from insurance company as they want more than it is worth. If they do then they keep the vehicle and do not care what the title says as they run the car to just junk.

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Old 11-11-2017, 12:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

All a rebuilt title means is they got some smuck to "inspect" the vehicle and declare it road worthy. DMV usually not directly involved in said inspection process, other than confirming that the "i's have been dotted and "t"s crossed on the proper paperwork.

Carfax & the like only show the end user what repair shops, insurance companies and DMV's have _volunteered_ for car info...if they don't volunteer specific info (or any at all...) then CarFax shows a clean bill of health.

In general...if the car's current title is from one of the 6 states listed as "in development" then it instantly should get extra scrutiny for not just flood damage, but any kind of major damage: https://www.vehiclehistory.gov/nmvtis_states.html

VT is kinda sketchy (one of the 6 on the list )...if your car is over 15 years old it doesn't get a title...not even a title check. If it's 0-15 years old and from out of state you have to have a DMV or LEO sign an affidavit that the VIN on the title match's the VINs on the car (the DMV person looks at you funny when you say it's down in the parking lot...when it's not legally supposed to be on the road until after the DMV visit lol).

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Old 11-11-2017, 12:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Googling 'what do flood cars look like?' or other key words resulted in 49,900,000 returns. Here are a few results;

https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/h...maged-car.html

https://www.npr.org/2017/09/07/54909...er-a-hurricane

https://auto.howstuffworks.com/under...amaged-car.htm

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Old 11-11-2017, 09:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

All of these various reporting services rely on what is voluntarily reported to them and then maybe entered into some database by some overworked clerk correctly.

Please note recent NCIS data fiasco in Texas...

caveat emptor

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Old 11-11-2017, 10:39 AM   #12
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

So, buying any vehicle with a REBUILT title consists of driving 8, 9 or 10 hours and then taking a door apart in someone’s driveway while calling the seller a liar.
Maybe you could give their daughter a slap on the Daisy Dukes at the same time.

Buying used cars sure has come a long way !

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Old 11-11-2017, 11:12 AM   #13
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

If they list a salvage or rebuilt title then ask what was salvaged/rebuilt. In this idiot state(IA) you get a salvage title if you buy a car at auction that was a stolen vehicle. You also get your title revised to SALVAGE if you make an insurance claim over $500.00. The low brow thieves here destroy the steering column and every insurance company totals the car because of this. The car is being auctioned off by the insurance company. It is a relatively easy DIY rebuild and relatively low cost. The threshold for salvage is any repair costing over $500.00

That 500.00 damage is a small door dent...

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Old 11-11-2017, 01:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

NICB has a VIN check, have not had a VIN of a damaged vehicle to see what it shows. My VIN shows
Quote:
VINCheck® Theft Record
VIN: xxxx has not been identified as a vehicle listed in the VINCheck® Theft Records.
VIN: xxxx has not been identified as a vehicle listed in the VINCheck® Theft Records.
VINCheck® is updated regularly as additional information is reported.
https://www.nicb.org/how-we-help/vincheck

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Old 11-11-2017, 01:47 PM   #15
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdraft View Post
So, buying any vehicle with a REBUILT title consists of driving 8, 9 or 10 hours and then taking a door apart in someone’s driveway while calling the seller a liar.
Maybe you could give their daughter a slap on the Daisy Dukes at the same time.

Buying used cars sure has come a long way !
I don't know anyone that buys any car sight unseen. Businesses yes but not people buying a car for personal use. eBay, Craigslist and ads are placed for scams it's always buyer beware. My guess is if you're not fully aware of how used cars are sold, you're lack of due diligence in researching how to protect yourself from being swindled is all on you, not the seller. The only words I'll accept from President Ronald Reagan is "Trust but verify". If you can't examine any car before purchase, you risk being swindled. The few links given are some of the best sources of information for consumers to watch out for scam operations. Let's face it, a new car that's flooded is still a new, low mileage car. The damage and insurance legalities to write off a flood vehicle is paperwork to protect insurance companies from claims - what if a flood car was retitled as salvage, bought by someone that repairs everything to make it road worthy and passes state inspection? The car looks, feels, smells and drives like the new car it was before it was flooded. As far as insurance companies are concerned, the VIN reveals the true history since it can't be altered and leaves a paper trail (for the insurance industry). Since one insurance company already retitled it as salvage, any insurance company will see the same title when they pull the record from any state DMV since the VIN remains the same. As far as the insurance company is concerned, the title change doesn't alter the record of the car as salvage. Salvage means that $60k Land Rover isn't worth $50k but way less since it's damaged from a flood no one wants to repair and risk future issues down the road. The value of the vehicle plummets with a salvage title even when it's registered in another state without the word 'salvage'. To a buyer unaware of this, he or she may find out as soon as the vehicle is insured and the insurance company says 'what you see may seem like a new car but it's not and with a salvage tile on it based on VIN records, the value is nowhere near new car costs. Insurance companies knows car values whether or not papers change. They're well aware of illegal, unscrupulous people restoring salvage vehicles and selling them for as much as they can pull the wool over unsuspecting buyers looking over a shiny new vehicle that has a hidden past. So instead of a buyer insuring his nearly new car for its value, he/she finds out the true value from insurance that their new car is flood damaged and has no value........ The buyer is swindled out of money thinking he/she bought a nearly new car for well below a new car price when the real value is nothing since it was written off and branded as salvage so insurance companies aren't liable for new car value if this car is involved in an accident. Insurance companies are in the business to make money, period. They're not in the business to give money back if they have all the information to protect themselves from illegal operations. They can and will inform anyone about scams but cannot control people's desires to buy that shiny new Ferrari (that was flooded) appearing in like new condition.

If you cannot examine a vehicle in person to look for hints of flood damage then you're not willing to protect yourself from scams. It's that simple. Rust and corrosion cannot be completely wiped away and the few links given are just a hint of how much anyone can learn to determine for themselves what's real and what isn't. As the saying goes, " The more you know........".

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Old 11-11-2017, 09:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

fdryer, thank you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
NICB has a VIN check, have not had a VIN of a damaged vehicle to see what it shows. My VIN shows
https://www.nicb.org/how-we-help/vincheck
I enter in the VIN and received,
VIN Check Total Loss Record
Date of loss: 201x-0x-xx Cause of loss: Other
I wonder if “FLOOD” is something checked by NICB, or if “Other” means “Other than theft”
I’m thinking it means, “Other than theft”

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Old 11-13-2017, 11:57 AM   #17
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

I know they check flood, but I don't know if they mark them any differently on their vin check. Was hoping someone with a flooded car would check and let us know

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I don't know anyone that buys any car sight unseen.
I've bought a few sight unseen (the '98 SL2 is one) and sold a few (three, I think).

Been lucky, so far; the cars I bought ended up being great. To be fair, the ones I bought were from small dealerships so I knew that there were at least real cars involved. One turned out to have had a new clutch installed within the last few thousand miles, which the dealer did not know about; found the paperwork later.

The buyers I sold my cars to never looked at the cars beforehand, but were pleasantly surprised - cars were as described

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Old 11-13-2017, 02:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

alordofchaos, I was anticipating someone countering my reply and glad there are parts of America where honesty still prevails. As a New Yorker living in the Big Apple among 8 million people, more goes on here to reflect honesty and deceit but still makes buyer beware part of being a NYC dweller with all the worlds immigrants coming here before moving on to other parts of America. Unfortunately, dishonest habits are brought into this country and part of NYC's 'ambience'. I've traveled around the US as part of my work and appreciate country honesty not known where 8 million people are living side by side in one of the biggest cities in the US. Being vandalized in my own home area yet remembering seeing a convertible with its top down and a camera in the passenger seat in a mid western city is stark contrast to a city kid growing up in NYC. Keys left in the ignition, house doors unlocked with no one home is not a NYC habit yet still done in many parts of this country because of culture. NYC's high turnover of immigrants and people like me born and raised in NYC are witnesses to how culture from every walk of life affects how children grow up whether immigrant or not.

I've experienced country charm and astonished about strangers treating me as another townie with open arms. Perhaps my business minded presence preceded me when a part of me was still in NY.

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Old 11-18-2017, 03:19 AM   #19
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Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

You might be able to search copart if the car was sold through there, and find the auction pictures.

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Old 11-18-2017, 11:46 AM   #20
alordofchaos
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Central MI
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1998 SL2
1997 SL2
Default Re: How Do You Verify You’re Not Buying a FLOOD VICTIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
alordofchaos, I was anticipating someone countering my reply and glad there are parts of America where honesty still prevails. As a New Yorker living in the Big Apple among 8 million people,
I still lock my car doors, and house doors, despite there being little crime here. Habit I picked up from living in Detroit and other cities for a number of years

I don't leave valuables in plain sight, either. Too tempting. Many years ago (late 1980's), a friend of mine had his rear passenger window busted. The tempting haul? About $2 worth of returnable cans and bottles left in the back seat. They missed the far more expensive car stereo in the glove box that I had not yet had a chance to install for him yet. But it cost him a fair amount to replace the glass (this was before I discovered Saturnfans and the joys of junkyard shopping)

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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