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Beware Hurricane Ian Car Titles Hitting The Market

Hello, this is Dave from, and even before Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc, our firm received a flood of calls—no pun intended—regarding vehicles purchased at salvage auctions that had succumbed to flooding. These vehicles, often sold and resold without proper titles, pose a significant threat to unsuspecting buyers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the hidden risks associated with flooded salvage vehicles and how you can protect yourself from falling into this costly trap.

The Flooded Salvage Vehicle Epidemic

Many vehicles purchased from salvage auctions, such as Copart and IAA, have been inundated with water, rendering them ineligible for a title. Unfortunately, these vehicles may change hands multiple times after the auction, with subsequent buyers unaware of the title’s unattainability.

The VIN Dilemma

Even if a flooded vehicle appears fixable and in good condition, it doesn’t mean it can ever be titled. Most of these cars have VIN numbers entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, effectively canceling their eligibility for titling or registration in the future—an irreversible process.

Assessing the Damage

Examining the images of these flooded vehicles reveals the extent of the damage. While some may show obvious signs of water intrusion, even those seemingly unharmed may have critical components affected. Rust and corrosion in major body panels, mechanical systems, and even underneath the seats where vital wiring and computers reside can result in irreversible damage.

Salvage Title Revocation

Insurance companies often declare flooded vehicles as total losses, leading to their sale through salvage auctions. However, recent changes make it challenging for buyers to repair and obtain a salvage title. Many vehicles have had their titling privileges revoked, especially those with VIN numbers associated with flood claims.

The Illusion of Repair

Attempting to repair a flooded salvage vehicle might seem plausible, but the long-term effects of saltwater intrusion into critical components can’t be underestimated. Even seemingly minor water levels can result in capillary action, causing water to seep into absorbent parts, leading to corrosion and malfunction over time.

The Need for Due Diligence

To safeguard against falling victim to these risks, buyers must conduct thorough due diligence. Running a history report directly from the DMV or titling authority is crucial. Avoid relying on services like Carfax or online VIN checkers, as they may not provide 100% accurate information.

The Takeaway

The short answer is clear: don’t buy flooded salvage vehicles. Despite potential savings, the hidden repair costs, diminished resale value, and the challenge of obtaining a title make these vehicles more trouble than they’re worth. Protect yourself by investing in a clean title vehicle and steering clear of the risks associated with flooded salvage cars.

Remember, the allure of a seemingly good deal can quickly turn into a financial nightmare when dealing with flooded salvage vehicles. If you have any doubts or questions about a potential purchase, reach out to us at We’re here to guide you and ensure you make informed decisions in the complex world of salvage vehicle ownership.

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