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TENNESSEE MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION WARNS AGAINST BUYING “FLOOD DAMAGED” VEHICLES

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The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission is warning those who are shopping around for new vehicles to beware of flood-damaged cars and trucks from states affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Motor Vehicle Anti-Theft Act of 1996 distinguishes between “fresh water flood” vehicles, which can be rebuilt, and “saltwater damaged” vehicles which cannot. Many of the vehicles damaged in the hurricanes will be classified as salt water damage because of the presence of “brackish water,” which is a mixture of salt and fresh water usually caused by backwash of saltwater into bayou areas. Saltwater damage will corrode and eat away at a vehicle’s body and operating components, even after it is cleaned up and repaired. A vehicle declared a total loss due to salt water damage is deemed non-repairable and cannot be titled again in the state of Tennessee. They can only be dismantled and used for parts. State officials say scammers often try to sell flooded vehicles quickly after a disaster, hoping to stay ahead of computer system updates so title check systems don’t have time to detect the car’s history. Online, CarFax has a free website for car-buyers to check if the vehicle has any reported flood damage. All that’s needed is the car’s VIN number.


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