If you’re in New Jersey shopping for a used car and the deal seems too good to be true, keep in mind that there are over 13,000 vehicles that have been processed by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) since Hurricane Sandy as damaged due to flooding. The State Attorney Generals Office (AG) partnered with the Consumer Affairs Division have created a data base for you to see if that car that caught your eye is one of those vehicles. The data base was announced by the AG's on Jan. 31, 2013.
The most notable component of the partnership is the creation of an online Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) database that consumers may access 24-7 to verify whether a vehicle was damaged due to flooding or other means. Although it is not illegal to sell a vehicle with either a flood or salvage title, specific requirements exist to ensure the status of such vehicles is disclosed to potential purchasers.
“Anyone who attempts to hide the fact that a car or truck has a flood-damaged or salvage title from potential buyers is breaking the law,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “We will go after those who attempt to enrich themselves by defrauding consumers into believing a vehicle is problem free when, in fact, is has a flood-damaged or salvage title.”
The owner of a vehicle damaged by flood, but not rendered economically impractical to repair or not rendered a total loss by an insurer, must place the phrase “Flood Vehicle” on the title, assignment of certificate of ownership (title), or manufacturer’s statement of origin if a new vehicle, directly below the word “Status.”
Before purchasing a used vehicle, consumers are advised to:
■Check the vehicle's title history and be wary if the vehicle has been titled multiple times over a short time period;
■Obtain a vehicle history report from the dealer, or get one yourself from a reputable source; this will let you know if the car has been damaged in the past; and
■Look for an insurance company's name on the title history, and contact the company for vehicle information.
To check a car you can access the data base by going to www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/floodedcars