This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

5 Ways to Spot a Car Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Beware of sweetheart deals
When it comes to avoiding Sandy-damaged vehicles, Scafidi recommends heeding the old adage "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

"If you're shopping for a 2010 Chevy (GM) Tahoe that's normally $25,000 and someone offers you one for $13,000, a warning light should go off in your head," he says. "Usually, that's a sign that something is wrong." 


Check a car's background
Both the NICB and car-checking service CarFax offer free online tools to help spot Sandy-totaled vehicles.

The NICB's VINCheck lets you compare a car's Vehicle Identification Number to the consortium's database of totaled or stolen cars.

CarFax offers a similar free Hurricane Sandy Flood Damage Check or more-extensive reports on individual cars for $40.

Such tools aren't 100% foolproof. For instance, NICB's database doesn't include uninsured vehicles and lacks information on about 12% of insured ones.

Have a mechanic inspect the car
One of the best ways to uncover a Sandy-damaged car is to have a skilled mechanic check the vehicle out, a service many garages offer for around $100.

Scafidi says merely telling a seller that you want a mechanic to inspect the car will often unmask crooks.

"If you say: 'Can I run the car over to my mechanic?' and the seller starts foaming at the mouth about how this is a limited-time deal, don't walk away -- run," he says.


Look for hidden problems
Whether using a mechanic or just checking a car yourself, a careful inspection can often uncover dirt, water stains or mold and mildew that scammers missed.

Scafidi says the trick is to look for problems in obscure places. For instance, inspect areas where the roof fabric meets the car's body. Or, check under the seats where the floor's fabric connects to the dashboard.

"You're looking for little pockets of water, dried mud or dirt residue that shouldn't be there," Scafidi says.

For a complete list of areas to inspect, go to the NICB's site and download the group's Auto Salvage Fraud checklist.

2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,129.59 -43.09 -0.25%
S&P 500 1,991.17 -3.12 -0.16%
NASDAQ 4,523.2420 -4.4470 -0.10%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs