Vehicles resurfacing from hurricane zone

| Friday, January 13, 2006

Vehicles damaged or totaled in the 2005 hurricanes are resurfacing and being sold, government agencies are warning, despite new laws requiring some flood-damaged vehicles to be destroyed.

A Louisiana law requiring some flooded vehicles to be crushed or dismantled is probably keeping many of the approximately 300,000 damaged vehicles in the state from being put back on the road.

But trucks with a gross weight of 20,000 pounds or more have, more or less, have been left alone.

This means, refurbished flood-damaged trucks may be resurfacing and being sold. Talk about “buyer beware.”

Enough time has passed for some trucks to have been salvaged, moved or sold from the southern states ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Government agencies such as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators are concerned that people trying to make a quick buck are making minimal repairs and returning totaled vehicles to the road.

Insurance companies in five states have branded vehicle records with “flood” or “salvage” tags, but after the vehicles are sold and moved, they cannot be tracked as accurately.

The Canadian motor transport group is reporting that flood-damaged vehicles have been showing up north of the border. There has been no official information specifically about trucks.

The administration is warning consumers to find a certified inspector before purchasing a truck or car to look for the warning signs, which include everything from a discolored interior to a recent engine shampoo.

Anyone violating the Louisiana law, the only one of its kind to surface since the hurricanes, could face up to six months in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine. The Louisiana House and Senate enacted the law November 2005.

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