Manitoba Public Insurance is advising used vehicle buyers to be aware that flood-damaged vehicles from the American eastern seaboard could find their way into the Manitoba market.
It’s estimated that nearly 700,000 vehicles were flooded or heavily damaged due to hurricane Sandy, which recently ravaged several states including New York and New Jersey.
If early damage estimates are accurate, the hurricane would be the single largest disaster to ever impact U.S. vehicles.
“Buyers should be aware of what they are purchasing,” said Ward Keith, MPI’s registrar of motor vehicles.
“A flood-damaged vehicle can be dangerous. Water can enter electronic components of vehicles, causing corrosion and malfunctioning of important safety features such as airbags. There may also be health concerns because of mould and other toxins.”
If properly branded as flood-damaged, the registrar of imported vehicles will mark vehicles as “irreparable” when entering Canada, meaning they can’t be registered for road use, Keith said.
The challenge for consumers is identifying flood-damaged vehicles that have not been branded due to the vehicle owner not opening an insurance claim.
While Manitoba Public Insurance is not aware of any of these vehicles having been imported to the province, consumers can check the history of a vehicle from the U.S. by going to this free service: carproof.com/free-flood-damage-check.aspx.
A VIN search is only one of the steps a person should take before purchasing a used vehicle.
Here are a few more:
• Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted and certified automotive technician before purchase.
• Check for damp or musty odours.
• Check for any signs of rust or mud in the trunk, glove box and beneath the seats.
• Check under the hood and look for a water line marked by mud or silt.