AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – The State Attorney General and Secretary of State are warning consumers to be on the lookout for flooded cars in the wake of hurricanes ravaging southern states.
“A respectable dealer that's been doing it for a long time, is going to know a good car from a bad car right of the bat,” Charlie Clark said.
Clark owns DNK Select Cars and Trucks in Farmingdale.
“The history of the car matters,” he said.
Clark, who has been selling for cars for more than 30 years, said his slogan “It’s just smarter to buy a southern vehicle” is what he has built his business on.
The dealership sells many cars that have not been exposed to winter weather.
Now, he is being extra vigilant to be sure his inventory was not once in a hurricane zone, but he said it is unlikely they will make it to north to Maine.
"You really don't have a history on that car. Whether it's been flooded out in Florida or Puerto Rico or some place,” Attorney General Janet Mills said.
Mills said flooded cars have been sold in the state before and warned that Lemon Laws only protect new car buyers.
"You do have the right to not buy the car but once you buy it and drive it off the lot you're more or less stuck with it,” Secretary Matt Dunlap said.
Dunlap and Mills urged buyers and sellers to look at the title history in depth before buying.
"The dealers are reputable for the most part and they want to keep their good will in the community and they want to keep customers coming in so they don't want unhappy customers,” Mills said.
- Check the car’s title history (where it has been, who has owned it, etc.)
- Look for hidden signs of damage underneath the car, in the truck, and under the hood.
- Have a certified mechanic look the car over before buying
- Avoid suspicious private sales
Clark said he has not had any issues and business has been great despite the hurricanes.
"The cars we have here that are from down south have picked up the pace people are picking them quicker because they know they're here,” he said.
Still, he recommended that everyone whether they are buying or selling takes the time to make sure they do not end up being the one underwater.
"Go slow cherry-pick what you find and pick the good ones. That's the same thing we've always done—pick the best ones,” Clark said.
If you think you already purchased a car that has been in a flood, you can reach out to the Attorney General’s Consumer Mediation Service at 1-800-436-2131 or e-mailing email@example.com.