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Buyers beware of cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy

5:15 PM, Dec. 28, 2012  |  Comments
In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, file photo, cars are submerged at the entrance to a parking garage in New York's Financial District in the aftermath ofsuperstorm Sandy. Cars and trucks that were flooded by Superstorm Sandy soon will make their way into the used car market, and that could mean trouble for buyers. After insurance companies declare flooded cars a total loss, they are sold to middlemen who fix and resell them.
In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, file photo, cars are submerged at the entrance to a parking garage in New York's Financial District in the aftermath ofsuperstorm Sandy. Cars and trucks that were flooded by Superstorm Sandy soon will make their way into the used car market, and that could mean trouble for buyers. After insurance companies declare flooded cars a total loss, they are sold to middlemen who fix and resell them.
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Wisconsin transportation officials are warning car buyers to watch out for vehicles damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

The Department of Transportation warns the storm caused water damage to tens of thousands of vehicles, making their electrical systems suspect. Agency officials say it's likely the vehicles will start showing up on used-car lots across the country as their owners complete insurance settlements.

Buyers should look for musty smells, water-spotted upholstery, dirty taillights, silt around the air filter, discolored or painted hood insulation, brittle wiring and rust in unexpected places.

Consumers also can check a vehicle's history by running its identification number through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System's website. Insurance companies are now required to report to NMVTIS any vehicle deemed a total loss.

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