Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Beware Hurricane Ian Car Titles Hitting The Market

Even before hurricane Ian, our firm received hundreds of calls every day about vehicles that were purchased at salvage auctions that were flooded that are no longer eligible for a title. Many of these vehicles have been purchased from auctions like Copart or IAA and they may have been sold two or three times after the auction to unwitting buyers who purchased a vehicle without a title and didn’t know that these vehicles are no longer eligible for a title. Just because a car can be fixed or is in good condition, doesn’t mean that it can ever be titled. 

Many of these cars have VIN numbers that have been entered into the federal database called the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). These VIN numbers have been effectively canceled as being eligible for titling or registration ever in the future. It’s an irreversible process. Now, look at these cars on the screen. You see this one in front of you obviously had water. You know up into the engine compartment but even these ones farther back may only have water up to the wheels. Some of these cars even if they can be repaired, or physically look okay are never able to be titled or registered on the road again. Once an insurance company pays a claim of a total loss, which normally will happen that vehicle now has to be sold through a salvage auction. And a lot of times in the past you may have been able to buy and sell cars from salvage auctions fix them up and get a salvage title. Not so easy in the future. Many of these cars have had their titling privileges revoked for that VIN number, here’s why. 

This car obviously is going to have major rust and corrosion in major body panels in the mechanical components of the vehicle. The engine, transmission, drive train, brakes, and shocks. Now, look at this one right behind the stop sign. It only comes up about halfway above the center of the wheel, however that water made its way into major components like the antilock brake sensors into the subframe, into the fuel components, much of the wiring and many of the computers are actually under the seats of the vehicle. So a lot of that mechanical and electrical equipment has become corroded or will be corroded in the future. Because of that, the repair of the vehicle might not seem that significant. You might look at this vehicle, it gets dried off it gets washed, and maybe the carpets are replaced. Maybe some of the underneath of the vehicle’s subframe components are cleaned or repaired. But the vehicle will never be the same. It may be a year maybe two years down the road when the components that had saltwater intrusion in between the spot welded joints in between where A-frame and suspension components are bolted together, it’s gonna start rusting. Right. And even if for some reason, the vehicle is allowed to be titled the vehicle is never going to survive past a few years. So you want to avoid these vehicles at all costs. Now, sometimes you won’t even know. This is the case sometimes, you’ll see a vehicle like even this one in the front, the gray one. It looks like a Honda accord. Maybe presented and it looks like a perfectly fine vehicle. The water’s not going to do any physical damage that you’ll be able to see. You might notice maybe on the inside some musty smell or some dampness inside the doors. But it may not seem like a significantly damaged vehicle. However, the title is going to show salvage. 

So here’s what you need to do. Run a history report. Now, don’t use Carfax. Don’t use any of these VIN checkers that you find online because they’re just really a $15-$20 throwaway of your money. They’re not a hundred percent accurate. In fact, if you look at the bottom of the disclaimers of many of these sites, it’ll tell you that it’s missing a lot of information, it’s not 100% accurate. The only way to get this information is directly from the DMV department of motor vehicles or the titling authority in your state, have them check it through the national database, not just their own database, the national database to see if this vehicle had any kind of flood insurance claim around the time of hurricane Ian. Last part of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. If the vehicle had a flood claim in Florida don’t buy it. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is. It doesn’t matter how good of a deal you can get. The car is not going to be worth what it’d be reasonably expected to pay for a normal vehicle even if it’s a little bit more money. In fact, if you look at this Honda accord you might not think it’s going to do a lot of damage but when water seeps into this door panel, there are things inside there like your power window motors, your power door lock actuators, all the wiring that goes into those. And that can connect back to things like computers and sensors. It’s going to have water that will soak up into that door panel and get into those parts, Even if it doesn’t go at an actual water level, it will seep up using capillary action into absorbent parts, even in the seats. Even inside the engine compartment, it’s going to get into things like the power steering rack. That’s going to be at or below this level of the water and those things over time, will get the fluid saltwater into the different components, and it’s going to ruin it. 

If you add up all the small parts you need to replace it’s going to be more than the value of the car. What’s interesting is if you look at this Honda accord in the front, ironically, this car already had a body repair. If you look at this front fender it’s a slightly different color gray than the back door. And even this seam here between the pillar, this is a slightly different color gray. This was a car that has had this fender at least repainted and may be replaced and the paint didn’t match a hundred percent or maybe it matched when they did it. But over time, it faded at a different rate than the rest of the car. So ironically this is already a car with a collision repair or body repair and now it’s flooded. 

So these vehicles are going to have major title problems in the future. A lot of times what happens with clients is they’ll buy these vehicles, they’ll fix them up, then they’ll go to try to get a title and find out you can’t get one. Many of these cars when they’re sold at Copart, the buyer at Copart who’s a licensed dealer, may know or should have known that the car is not eligible for a title, but you as a consumer who buys it later, do not have access to that auction report or to that auction transmittal to know that this vehicle can never be titled. So the short answer is don’t buy one of these cars, it’s more trouble than it’s worth whatever thousands you think you’re saving on buying the car. It’s going to cause more than that to repair hidden damage and not count the fact that the resale value will always be less than a vehicle with a clean title.

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Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request LetterPGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vYXBwLmFjdWl0eXNjaGVkdWxpbmcuY29tL3NjaGVkdWxlLnBocD9vd25lcj0xOTQ4ODEyNiZhcHBvaW50bWVudFR5cGU9MjMwNjY0MTAiIHRpdGxlPSJTY2hlZHVsZSBBcHBvaW50bWVudCIgd2lkdGg9IjEwMCUiIGhlaWdodD0iODAwIiBmcmFtZUJvcmRlcj0iMCI+PC9pZnJhbWU+PHNjcmlwdCBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vZW1iZWQuYWN1aXR5c2NoZWR1bGluZy5jb20vanMvZW1iZWQuanMiIHR5cGU9InRleHQvamF2YXNjcmlwdCI+PC9zY3JpcHQ+

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