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BBB warns against buying cars from East Coast

PHOENIX — The Better Business Bureau is warning car buyers that vehicle damaged by superstorm Sandy could be ending up on some unscrupulous dealers’ lots.

Thousands of cars were damaged by Sandy’s floodwaters. Most will be totaled by insurance companies and should be heading for a junkyard, but some of them could end up on car lots or Craigslist.

“Consumers need to really watch out,” said Miriam Cruz with the BBB in Phoenix. “Sometimes these damaged cars will be cleaned out and the seller won’t tell buyers the car has been damaged by flooding.”

Cruz said one way buyers can protect themselves from buying a flood-damaged car involves a few minutes of research.

“You can always request a credit history on the car with a VIN number, which should tell you if the car has been damaged by water,” she said.

A good mechanic can spot flood damage immediately as well. Cruz said she’s unaware of flood-damaged cars being resold in Arizona in the past.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau will be joining law enforcement, insurance and car rental companies with identifying and cataloging cars damaged by Sandy to help prevent the resale of damaged vehicles.