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Katrina's flood damaged cars are starting to appear all over the country. The latest, 14 "salvaged titles" cars trying to be passed off an new at an auto auction, in Los Angeles.

Be VERY careful if you're buying a used card - the technique goes like this:

1) Car is flooded damaged and totaled by insurance company in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, etc. etc. etc.

2) Cars are sold off in auction with the intent that they will be parted out and scrapped.

3) Cars instead are moved to a state with loose titling laws. The car is cleaned and ehem, "restored," and a new, clean title is issued (yes, clean title).

4) Unsuspecting buyer finds a "great deal" and instead buys into a mechanical and electrical nightmare that tends to smell a bit odd when the air gets damp.

Things to look for in a used car:

1) Check the trunk and engine bay. Rust in the engine bay, on the engine block, and especially in the spare tire well is a red flag.

2) If a car is relatively new (under 10 years old) and has new carpets and or upholstery through out - red flag. Beware the "like factory" new interior.

3) Immersion in water tends to make wiring brittle. Climb up in the footwell and look for rust under the dashboard and find a wiring harness or two - if the wires feel brittle and not flexible - the car could have been flooded.

4) A professional inspection may turn things up and of course there is also a title report.

5) Of course the best advice going is - if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

Be careful used car buyers.

Be very, very, careful.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/AUTOS/01/27/hurricane_cars/index.html
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