Hurricane rains will again flood market with damaged cars

At the time of this writing, Hurricane Florence was dumping up to 40 inches of rain, which will eventually flood the market with water-damaged vehicles.

Complicating matters, salvage titles, which are often marked with “flood” or “salvage” designations, can also be marked with an inconspicuous number or letter. While flood-damaged vehicles are typically scrapped or recycled, many still find their way into consumers’ hands.

Though the Carolinas are well out of our regions, the chances that those vehicles being sold without salvage titles by unscrupulous sellers into our parts of the country are not.

Water-damaged cars are often transported well outside their locations to unsuspecting buyers, as evidenced by recent events such as Texas’ Hurricane Harvey last year, who might not be aware of the warning signs. Electronics, modules, sensors, airbag controllers, lubricants and mechanical systems can all be compromised, though all are not so easy to detect if you aren’t aware of a vehicle’s flood-soaked history — or what to look for.

For shops that are conducting pre-purchase inspections, there are telltale signs that a vehicle may be flood damaged. According to Consumer Reports, here are a handful of the usual suspects:

•    Signs of carpets having been waterlogged include a musty smell. New carpets in older vehicles should raise suspicion.

•    Similarly, signs that seat-mounting screws were removed indicate carpeting might have been taken out to dry.

•    Waterlines on lamp lenses should raise eyebrows.

•    Bare screws — exposed and unpainted — in the console area will develop rust.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) also recommends looking for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.

Buyers and shops beware.


Making shop lives easier

Thanks to recent California legislation enacted through the efforts of Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA), shops can increase efficiencies.

Among new regulations is one that allows shops to obtain authorization from a customer electronically, including text messages.

“This is much needed change in current law and will help streamline the authorization process for both shops and customer,” stated Jack Molodanof,  ASCCA legislative advocate.

Molodanof outlined additional new regulations:

•    Each part listed on the estimate shall be considered new unless specifically identified as used, rebuilt or reconditioned. Each new replacement crash part listed in the estimate shall be an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part unless specifically identified as a non-OEM aftermarket crash part.

•    Part kits containing several components may be listed as a single part on the invoice and identified by brand name and corresponding part number or similar designation.

A link to the full text of the regulations is


Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.