Hurricane Sandy flood cars wash up on Kentucky roads - News, Weather & Sports

Hurricane Sandy flood cars wash up on Kentucky roads

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE 3) - Water ravaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy are washing up on Kentucky roads. Water damage can be a problem that is shockingly easy to hide.  In fact, there are more flood damaged cars in the bluegrass, than all but a handful of other states.

A storm that hit nearly 800 miles away is flooding local roads with hidden danger.

"If you've bought a flood damaged car unknowingly, you're putting you and your family at risk," said Chris Basso, spokesman for the used car tracking service CARFAX.

CARFAX estimates more than 100,000 vehicles damaged in Hurricane Sandy will end up being resold. Some to unsuspecting buyers right here in Kentucky and Indiana. And the company's research shows the area has been flooded with flood cars for years.

CARFAX said there are more than 15,000 of them in Kentucky and Indiana combined. In fact, Kentucky has the fourth most flood cars in the entire country.

"You have the north east and you have the southern states," Basso said. "And Kentucky is right in the cross hairs in between."

An east target for dealers in flood prone areas looking to unload water damaged vehicles. But first they have to make them look like nothing ever happened.

"Professional con men do this for a living," Basso said. "They target cars that show little signs of physical damage, that can be easily cleaned up cosmetically, and resold to unsuspecting consumers."

CARFAX said tens of thousands of vehicles flooded in Hurricane Sandy, famously pictured sitting side by side covering at a Long Island airport, ended up being sold at auction with titles that are supposed to be branded "flood damaged" or "total loss."

Basso said those documents can be altered to make it look like flooding never happened, just like the vehicle itself.

CARFAX bought a sedan flooded in the October 2012 Hurricane that hit the northeast, then assembled an crew, to clean it inside and out

"You couldn't even sit in the car without having breathing troubles," Basso said.

After just a few hours, it looked like any other used car. But the evidence of the damage is there if you know where to look. CARFAX took the cleaned up flood car to Steve Sabonya, certified mechanic with Curry's Auto Service.

"You can see there's a fair amount of rust here," Sabonya said while pointing out rust to the undercarriage.

Sabonya said the case of Sandy flood cars the frame and engine is being eaten away by corrosive salt water residue

"From the salt damage it actually ate a hole in the valve cover," Sabonya said as he looked under the hood to examine the engine.

"If this engine were to start and you left this just like this without repairing this, it's definitely a fire hazard."

Beyond the fire hazard, the water damage can slowly short circuit the electrical and the safety systems in your vehicle meaning airbags and anti lock breaks could fail at any time.

"You don't want to be caught driving a flooded car that you don't know is flooded, going down the highway, and have one of those critical systems break on you," Basso said.

To avoid buying a flood car, start with the simple things like taking any used car you're looking at out for a test drive.

Then, have it checked out by a certified mechanic who can spot the signs of flood damage. You can also get a CARFAX to see if the vehicle has ever been branded: flood damaged or total loss.

CARFAX even has a website,, where they make all flood damage information available to the public free of charge.

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