Be Wary Of Purchasing Flood Damaged Used Cars

In a press release dated July 17th, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged consumers to exercise caution when purchasing used vehicles potentially submerged by last month’s flooding rains.

Attorney General Morrisey said “With so many vehicles destroyed by this summer’s historic flooding, it’s plausible someone may try to take advantage of the situation. That’s why potential car buyers must be on guard and watch for deals that seem too good to be true.”

State law prohibits the reselling of a submerged vehicle without a salvage title. This requires anyone repairing a total loss to do so with a specially licensed salvage mechanic and document its redeemed status with a salvage title.

Those opting to mitigate their total loss should question any towing company to ensure it is dealt with accordingly. Doing so will provide some certainty that the flood victim’s total loss doesn’t become another’s profit and an eventual buyer’s problem.

Otherwise, there are several things consumers can do to ensure they make a good purchase. Tips include researching the automobile’s history with its vehicle identification number (VIN) via CARFAX and evaluating the dealership through Better Business Bureau.

Those buying from a private owner should have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle for any issue.

Consumers should pay particular concern to any vehicle with multiple owners in multiple states over a short period of time. That protects the consumer from anyone who would repair a submerged vehicle in a state with less stringent laws and then resell it in West Virginia.

Simply put, consumers should question the absence of a salvage title whenever their inspection report or research indicates their potential purchase was submerged.

If you have a question regarding a potential purchase or believe you have a complaint, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or file a report online at

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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