Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Warns Buyers Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles
Texans urged “Don’t let yourself become the next victim of Hurricane Harvey.”
AUSTIN – With an estimated 500,000 to one million cars and trucks ruined in recent floods from Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) is urging Texans to do their research before buying a new or used car. While many of these vehicles will go through insurance companies and get marked as flood damaged, there may be tens of thousands of vehicles that are uninsured or are covered by liability only insurance. These are the vehicles that pose the greatest risk to Texans.
“Too many Texans already get taken advantage of by people selling flooded, salvaged, and rebuilt vehicles as though they were in perfect condition,” said TxDMV Executive Director Whitney Brewster. “Don’t let yourself become the next victim of Hurricane Harvey; do your research.”
TxDMV uses a national title database under the United States Department of Justice to help stop title fraud and urges consumers to learn how to protect themselves when buying a vehicle. Brewster cautioned, “Don’t let us find a problem after you bought the vehicle. Protect yourself before you buy.”
TxDMV offers these tips to help detect water damage on a vehicle:
- Get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) off the vehicle you want to buy.
- Do a Title Check and obtain a Vehicle History Report at www.TxDMV.gov/title-check.
- Have an independent mechanic examine the vehicle.
- Examine the interior and engine compartment for evidence of water and grime. An extremely clean vehicle might also be a red flag to investigate further.
- Check for rust on areas of the vehicle that normally do not come in contact with water.
- Check for issues with electronical components such as door locks, windows, or motorized seats.
While these inspection suggestions will not detect water damage in every case, they do provide some information to protect consumers from purchasing a vehicle damaged by water, such as a flood. If you are considering purchasing a vehicle that you suspect may have been damaged by water, consider having it inspected by a licensed mechanic.
Go to TxDMV’s Title Check page. It provides information on obtaining a Vehicle History Report from the only vehicle title database in the nation where all states, insurance carriers, and junk and salvage yards are required by federal law to report. It contains title information on cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, buses, and big rigs – virtually every titled motor vehicle in the country.
“When title fraud happens, innocent people are hurt,” Brewster said. “We need everyone to urge their family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers to do their research and spend a few extra dollars before they buy any vehicle.”
“Remember,” she added. “Don’t Buy a Wreck. Do a Title Check.”
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The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles serves, protects and advances the citizens and industries in the state with quality motor vehicle related services. For every $1 it spends, the TxDMV returns $11 to the state. Each year the agency registers more than 24 million vehicles; issues more than 8 million vehicle titles; licenses approximately 34,000 motor vehicle dealers and distributors; credentials more than 60,000 motor carriers; issues more than 650,000 oversize/overweight permits; investigates approximately 13,000 complaints against dealers and motor carriers; and awards grants to law enforcement agencies to reduce vehicle burglaries and thefts. Learn more at www.TxDMV.gov.