Experts: Watch out for hurricane-damaged cars on the market

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning potential car buyers to watch out for hurricane damaged vehicles hitting the market. 

The organization tweeted a warning that as many as a million vehicles may have been damaged or totaled during this hurricane season; many in the recent Hurricanes Florence and Michael. In the past damaged cars like that have been discovered back on the market and being sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Jeremy Cooley, store manager at the Lake Mary Action Gator Tire said he’s seen his share of weather damaged vehicles. He said often the worst damage comes from flooding like we’ve seen this hurricane season. Issues like rusting, mold, and even eventual vehicle failure haunt those cars caught up in it.

"A lot, a lot of things and a lot of them don't show up for months or years,” said Cooley.

The NHTSA launched a website dedicated to the issue ( and is urging buyers, especially in the south-west United States to do their homework before buying used in the coming months and years.

They recommend starting by running the vehicle’s VIN online or getting a CarFax report to see if the vehicle has been in a disaster.

However, Cooley cautions that those reports will only show damage if the previous owner had insurance and filed a claim. If not, that damage may go unreported. 

So, Cooley recommends always having a trusted mechanic check out a used car before you buy.