Due to computer chip shortage, automobile manufacturers are producing fewer new cards and many consumers are turning to buying a used car.  A problem about which people often are unaware involves the sale of used cars that were damaged in a storm or hurricane. In the past, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and other state RMVs have issued warnings to consumers to be on the lookout for used cars with phony title papers that indicate that the particular used car in which you are interested is from a state such as Oregon when in fact, these cars are cars that were from hurricane ravaged areas with many of them containing hidden water damage that could present serious safety problems.

In one instance, a report for a car purported to be from Oregon showed a damage report filed previously that showed the car listed as a total loss vehicle with a salvage title listed in New York and a new title later issued in Oregon. This practice of transporting a car to another state and re-registering it is called “title washing.”   In order to protect yourself when you are buying a used car you should always have a mechanic whom you trust check out any used car that you are considering buying.

TIPS

Prior to buying a used car you should always get a full report on its history. The United States Department of Justice operates The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System which provides much information about used cars. The NVMTIS provides a list of various companies such as Carfax that have been approved to provide reliable reports. These companies charge between $2.95 and $12.99 for a report that will provide detailed information including the car’s accident and repair history on any used car you are considering purchasing.  You also can get some information about a particular car’s title, most recent odometer reading and condition from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System for free.  https://www.nicb.org/

Also, the National Insurance Crime Bureau has a free database that will indicate whether a particular car was flood-damaged, stole but not recovered or otherwise declared as salvaged if the car was insured at the time it was damaged.  https://www.nicb.org/

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