How to spot and avoid flood damaged cars amid car inventory shortage

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola via WPVI logo
Friday, September 10, 2021
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The remnants of Ida submerged cars all across our region, driving up demand on inventory that was already stretched thin.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The remnants of Ida submerged cars all across our region driving up demand on inventory that was already stretched thin due to the pandemic and a global chip shortage.

Many who lost vehicles due to flooding will be looking for a new ride.

"A tight market has gotten tighter," said Kevin Mazzucola, the executive director of the Auto Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia.

Mazzucola described the situation as "acute" and explaining that dealers normally have a vehicle supply for 50 to 100 days, but now they have inventory for only 5 to 15 days. And when many of those vehicles come in, they're already earmarked.

"So I think we're going to still be tight on inventory in September, October,. We're hoping for a little bit more relief as we get closer to the end of the year and do better in January, February, March of '22," he said.

Prices are up too, although the silver lining is you'll get a lot more for your trade-in. But beware when you're looking to purchase a car.

"There are 378,000 vehicles that were previously flooded that are back in the market right now either up for sale, or in people's driveways. And you know, even more concerning is that 10% of those are in Pennsylvania and New Jersey alone," said Chris Basso of Carfax.

And now thousands more will make it onto the market.

"We're definitely going to see vehicles that were submerged in flood waters making their way back into the market in the Philly area and elsewhere around the country," said Basso.

Sometimes the signs are not so obvious and you need to look closely.

"You really do and you know, flood damage unfortunately, can be easy to clean up and it's really hard to detect," said Basso.

So check the vehicle's history, you can do that for free through Carfax.

Also, test drive the car and have it inspected by a certified, independent mechanic you trust.

For more information:

CarFax: Spotting a flooded vehicle

Vincheck Lookup

Free Autocheck Flood Risk Check

Edmunds: Tips on buying a new car during chip shortage

Kelley Blue Book: Tips on buying a used car