While the recent hurricanes and storms brought devastation to surrounding states, Alabama breathed a sigh of relief to have been spared. However, this is not always the case, and you have likely seen your share of heavy rains and rising waters. It is only a matter of time before Alabama faces its own crisis.
The scenes on TV and social media made it difficult to turn away, and you may have watched the 24-hour coverage as the storms pummeled the coast. Then, in its wake, homes and cars drifted, submerged in the floods, and people stood around in a daze. Many will return and rebuild their homes. But what will happen to those cars?
Ticking time bomb
Once a car fills with water, the damage is often complete. Flood-damaged vehicles are good for little more than scrap parts. Their owners are fortunate if they have insurance to replace the vehicle, but this is not always the case. In many circumstances, car owners get rid of their ruined cars, and unscrupulous dealers perform some cosmetic repairs and sell them to unsuspecting buyers. The danger of these vehicles on the road is real. Just a few of the potential risks of driving a flood-damaged car include:
- Brake failure
- Seat belt failure
- Electrical system shut-down
- Air bag failure to deploy
- Engine damage
- Exhaust system allowing toxic vapors to escape
- Ventilation system allowing harmful bacteria to circulate
Any of these unsafe components may result in accident, injury or illness, all of which could be prevented by keeping flood-damaged cars off the road. Unfortunately, Carfax reports that Alabama roads are notorious for flooded cars, ranking among the highest in the country. At any given time, there are approximately 5,300 dangerously damaged vehicles on the road or sitting on car lots waiting for someone to purchase them.
Avoiding becoming a victim
To protect yourself and your family from a vehicle with a compromised system that could fail at the most crucial time, experts recommend purchasing vehicles only from reputable dealers who have high ratings from the Better Business Bureau.
Additionally, safety advocates recommend that you walk away from a car that smells like mold or overpowering air freshener trying to mask that moldy smell. Look carefully for signs of rust or moisture in the upholstery or under the floor mats. Above all, if you or a loved one is injured after unknowingly purchasing a flood-damaged car, you have the right to seek legal assistance.