The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) is reminding consumers to be vigilant as storm and flood-damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath may enter the province’s market.
This is somewhat of a “historical pattern,” noted OMVIC, the administrative authority tasked with protecting consumers under the Motor Vehicles Dealers Act.
"After Hurricane Katrina we saw many flood-damaged vehicles find their way to Ontario,” Terry O’Keefe, manager of communications for OMVIC noted in a statement.
“While the total number of flooded vehicles in the U.S. Northeast is not yet known, car buyers need to be vigilant. A flood damaged vehicle can be dangerous."
Water from a storm and flooding can enter electronic components of vehicles, causing corrosion and malfunctioning of important safety features, according to OMVIC.
Ontario’s mandatory branding rules say vehicles imported from the U.S. branded as “flood damaged” would automatically be branded “irreparable” by the province’s Ministry of Transportation.
Branding, however, isn’t fully reporting in the U.S., and sellers there could potentially buy flood damaged vehicles, and transfer them to a state without full branding, effectively getting rid of the damage label, OMVIC said.
"Another concern will be the sale of vehicles that were not insured for this kind of loss,” O’Keefe noted. “These vehicles won't be reported to insurance companies and therefore won't get branded; some owners may dry them out and sell them or trade them in, to try and recoup their loss. Consumers in Ontario must really pay attention to the history of a vehicle they are interested in including where it's from".
Ontario consumer protection laws only protect those who buy from a registered dealer. OMVIC recommends consumers purchase vehicle history reports from trusted websites and have vehicles inspected by an independent mechanic.
Organizations in the U.S., such as AAA, have also issued warnings about flood-damaged cars entering the market.
Photo: A damaged vehicle and property in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. (Credit: Office of the Governor/Tim Larsen)