“The car was beautiful. Everything was immaculate,” said
At the Flour Bluff town hall meeting on Monday, September 18, Melissa Castro, Corpus Christi Police Department Auto Theft Task Force Project Manager, cautioned those in attendance about buying used – and even new – vehicles after a storm like Harvey from a used car lot or an individual. In the literature she distributed at the meeting, she shared valuable tips for making “sniffing out” a seller who may try to sell you a vehicle with hidden damage.
“Cars are rolling computers these days. When water gets as high as it did with Harvey, we’re going to see significant damage,” said
If you are shopping for a vehicle, follow these tips:
- Be alert to damp or musty odors.
- Check for carpet/upholstery that has been replaced or recently shampooed. Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt, or signs of water stains.
- Look for dirt build-up especially on the underside of the dashboard. This area is hard to clean.
- Inspect for rust under the vehicle. Corrosion is uncommon in new vehicles.
- Look for rust, mud, dirt, or discoloration in small, out-of-the-way crevices on the doors under the hood or inside of the trunk.
- Ensure electrical components, such as lighting, heater/AC fan, window motors, and more are all functioning properly.
- Get a pre-purchase inspection of the used vehicle by a trusted mechanic.
- Check the vehicle’s history; acquire a CARFAX Vehicle History Report. The report may reveal if the car has been in a flood or been issued a salvage title.
Other websites that offer additional valuable information are as follows:
- TEXAS DMV: http:www.txdmv.gov/motorists/buying-or-selling-a-vehicle/title-check-look-before-you-buy/junk-title-brands
- NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU: NICB.ORG Public can type in VIN number, and the program will tell them if the vehicle is listed as stolen or is a salvage vehicle. Information is from Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) based on insurance claims and would not have the flood vehicles in which there was no insurance.
- INSURANCE SERVICES OFFICE, INC.: http://www.verisk.com/insurance/brands/iso.html This is a leading source of vast amounts of information about property/casualty insurance risk. ISO is an information broker for the insurance industry to NMVTS (NATIONAL MOTOR VEHICLE TITLE INFORMATION SYSTEM).
- All DMVs throughout the U. S. Report to NMVTIS.
- Total loss flood-damaged vehicles will be recorded in ISO, NMVTIS, and TEXAS DMV databases.
- A catastrophe code is assigned to Hurricane Harvey losses. NICB will pull the total loss flood damage vehicles based upon a flag placed by TEXAS DMV along with the catastrophe code assigned to Hurricane Harvey and enter the VIN record into the NICB Vincheck.
Castro encouraged citizens to contact her office for more information or to report vehicle burglary, theft, and insurance fraud.
Corpus Christi Police Department
Auto Theft Task Force Project Manager
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.