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Consumers beware of car damaged by floods

STATE WIDE (WGME) -- CBS 13's on your side with a warning from the state after last week's record-setting storm.

The Bureau of Insurance is alerting consumers to the potential of flood-damaged cars and trucks.

At Moody’s in Portland, the manager says they are seeing some flooded cars but many are being totaled by insurance companies.

The concern is those water damaged cars will end up for sale to unsuspecting buyers because looks can be deceiving. You always want to check for a few things before you buy:
    -Check the engine for a high water mark.
    -Look for rust or corrosion on wires under the hood.
    -Check inside for mud or stains.
    -Be suspicious if the carpet smells damp or like mildew.

Minor flood damage, the experts say can be taken care of if it's addressed quickly.
   
If a car is a total loss, Maine law requires an insurer to get a salvage title, letting future buyers know the history of the car but the state warns sellers can sometimes conceal damage by moving a vehicle and its title to other states.

It's not just cars from last week's rain in Portland you need to watch out for, there was flooding all over the country and insurance companies aren't always quick to total out cars.

Lee Goodine, Moody’s Facility Manager, says: “It depends on the water level what the insurance companies will do. If the water level is low and coming in just over the rocker panels it will go for repair status. If it elevates higher insurance company will send it to an auction yard.”

The State Bureau of Insurance suggests always going for a test drive and having the vehicle checked by a mechanic you trust. Pre-purchase inspections cost about $60 to $80.