How water damage can ruin a vehicle

Flooding from natural disasters such as hurricanes and severe thunderstorms can dump a lot of rain on an area in a short amount of time, producing floodwaters. Not only can flooding displace people from their homes, but it can also destroy billions of dollars worth of property, including cars and other types of vehicles. 

A car that has been fully submerged in water is generally considered to be a total loss. However, not all flood damage ends up totaling a car. Despite regulations and rules concerning the sale of cars damaged by water, many of them end up on a dealership’s lot. The original owner or dealership may attempt to hide the damage by doctoring the title, a practice known as “title washing”, or not reporting the damage to the insurer. 

Consumers have a right to know whether there are any existing defects to the car they’re planning to purchase. A dealership must disclose if a car has water damage from being in a flood or from a significant water incursion while driving in the rain, even if there are no visibly obvious signs that the car has water damage.

Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who cover it up. The result? An unsuspecting individual shopping for a used car could end up purchasing a water damaged car and have issues with it down the road.

The problem with water…

Water damage to a vehicle can take many forms. If the car’s carpeting, carpet mats, upholstery, and other types of absorbent material have been soaked in water, it can result in the growth of mold. Getting mold out of a car, especially if the cushions and carpeting are affected, can be a frustrating and expensive process. If mold remediation is not done or isn’t successful, the mold can lead to health issues. 

When water, especially saltwater, comes into contact with a car’s metal surfaces, rust can develop affecting the frame, steering and suspension components, brake parts, bolts and screws, brackets and clips. As the rust continues to develop, it can threaten the structural integrity of the vehicle, resulting in potential safety issues.

Furthermore, the electrical systems in a car are highly susceptible to water damage, which can potentially affect the high-tech systems responsible for maximizing a car’s fuel efficiency and tracking the performance of its safety-critical systems. Not only would it be very costly to repair damaged electronics in a car, but it could compromise the safety of the car as well.

Did you find out about the water damage AFTER you bought the car?

If you bought a car with water damage, a dealer should have had you sign paperwork with disclosures concerning the car’s history with respect to flood damage. If the dealer didn’t tell you about the damage or have you sign disclosure documents, you can sue the dealership for auto fraud to get your money back. 

At Brennan Law, our primary goal is to help you determine whether you have been a victim of auto fraud, and if so, take the necessary legal action to resolve the situation.

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