Flood Damage & Ford Trucks: What You Must Know

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Flood Damage

Sure, laws and regulations are in place for consumer protection, but future Ford truck buyers must still be aware of signs of flood damage.

The recent natural disasters that have struck Texas and Florida have in many ways handicapped local economies, governments, and most importantly, American families. Because many affected victims will soon be forced to dive into the used-car market to replace their written-off vehicles, we at Ford Truck Enthusiasts believe you should know how to avoid the unfortunate collateral of two level-four hurricanes.

What happens to damaged vehicles?

In order to fully understand how to detect and avoid flood damage, you must comprehend what happens to vehicles found by local cleaning crews or deemed total losses by insurance companies. Then again, regardless of how a Harvey or Irma-affected vehicle ended up in a salvage lot, they will both share the same fate: a salvage auction.

Flood damage

flood damage

ALSO READ: Forum members explain how to spot a “flood truck.”

A handful of nationwide auction companies with strong-enough infrastructures will process the large volume of flood-damaged vehicles and will auction them to dealers, and in some cases the general public. In fact, a representative of Cox Automotive, the parent company of Manheim Auto Auctions, told ABC News that “Harvey and Irma may have flooded an estimated half-a-million to one million cars.”

Companies like Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) are already stockpiling thousands of vehicles with flood-damage and have dedicated online and on-site auctions to sell them. These Ford trucks and SUVs you see here have already been transported to auction facilities in Louisiana, just a stone’s throw away from Texas and fairly close to Florida’s northwestern border. Even worse is the fact these photos published by IAA of a red Ford Super Duty, white F-150, and red Expedition don’t show any visible tale-tell signs of flood damage — until the hood, doors or trunk are open, that is, making it a real nightmare for future prospective buyers.

flood damage

flood damage

What to do?

The real threat to consumers begins with the intent of the seller. The Federal Trade Commission requires individuals, as well as manufacturers and dealerships, to disclose whether a vehicle is “junk,” “salvage” or involved in a “flood” via disclaimers in the titles.

Because most of us don’t ask to see a title before test-driving our future Ford truck or SUV, the risk of the disclaimers being overlooked can be quite high depending on the tactics and ethics of the selling party. As a result, we’re sharing with you the National Auto Dealers Association’s (NADA) inspection tips for spotting flood damage:

  • Check a vehicle’s title history using the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or a commercially available vehicle history report service, such as Experian or Carfax, etc. Reports may state whether a vehicle has been flood-damaged.
  • Look under the carpeting for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
  • This one is especially important. Check under the dash for dried mud and soil residue. Look for mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpeting or trunk. While poor maintenance or cleanliness could produce a dirty interior, it’s unlikely for mud or dirt to build up behind panels like fuse boxes or center consoles. This is one of the most common signs that dirty water was once found inside the vehicle.
  • Open the hood, trunk, and doors. Check for rusty screws in the console and in other areas water would normally not reach unless the vehicle was submerged.
  • Look for grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps, and relays.
  • Inspect electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion. See the photo below, of an electrical relay coroded due to flood damage.

flood damage

While common sense should always prevail, it’s important to pay close attention to the first suggestion. You wouldn’t buy a house without having a home inspector check it out first, right? Doing a VIN check, title check and Carfax check is just as important. Remember that of most folks, their car is typically the second-largest purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to buy someone else’s problem.

As Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau told the Chicago Tribune, “Even brick-and-mortar legitimate dealers can get burned buying flooded vehicles.” He further added that “If a professional (buyer) can get burned, you (consumers) can too.”

Of course, not every dealer or individual is out to make a shady buck, let’s be clear on that. But, our goal is to educate you for all possible buying scenarios, and that’s exactly why we’re bringing this up.

MUST SEE: Ford F-350 sinks at a boat launch!

flood damage

What if?

Hopefully, we’ve helped you stay away from flood damage, but what should you do if somehow, someway you still acquired one these Ford trucks?

Consumers are protected by federal and state laws, but as the Federal Registry shows, the exact definition and interpretation of these laws could vary per state. Shoppers are encouraged to research their local Department of Motor Vehicle laws before buying a vehicle or claiming protection under a particular law. These could include the FTC’s Used Car Rule, the Federal Lemon Law, and the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). In most cases, a victim’s first point of contact is their local BMV or their state’s Attorney General.

Do you have any advice to share with FTE members or a previous experience you’d like to share? Let us know!

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

Jerry Perez is a regular contributor to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

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