If you recently bought a used or new vehicle that you suspect has flood damage, all is not lost. State and federal lemon laws are in place to protect consumers. But you'll want to be diligent about getting to the bottom of this.
That's because water damage to a vehicle is serious business. In fact, you could be saddled with the following problems:
- Major monetary loss. Flood damage diminishes a car's market value by as much as 75% if, of course, it still retains any value.
- Water damage slowly corrodes engine and electrical components, resulting in heavy repair costs.
- The corroding nature of water damage could, without warning, cause the brakes to fail, making the vehicle a liability rather than an asset.
If you unknowingly purchase a flood damaged vehicle, contact your state's Attorney General as soon as possible. The volume of car complaints has prompted the following states to pass a Used Car Lemon Law:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
This law provides a mandatory warranty based on the used car's age or mileage. If mechanical problems occur during the warranty, the dealer must repair the vehicle. If the problem persists the dealer must then replace the vehicle or refund the buyer.
If you don't reside in one these six states you may be protected by one or some of the following federal laws:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Used Car Rule – The FTC requires dealers who sell six or more vehicles to post a Buyers Guide form in every used car that's for sale. The guide must state whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a used car warranty, and list all the possible defects that could occur on the vehicle.
- Federal Lemon Law – This prohibits the posting of implied warranties when the vehicle is sold with an express written warranty.
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) – Under this law, a used vehicle automatically includes an implied warranty that the vehicle is safe to operate on the road. However, used car dealers may deny the implied warranty if they sell the auto "as is."
If you think any of the above laws were violated, you may have a case against the dealer who sold you the flood-damaged car.