A Motor Vehicle Commission database that lists vehicles issued flood or salvage titles following Hurricane Sandy has doubled since being introduced in January, state officials said Thursday.
The purpose of the database is to protect prospective buyers of used vehicles from unknown flood damage that may not be reported by the seller. Currently, the number of vehicles with flood or salvage titles in the state database is approximately 26,000.
It is not illegal to sell a vehicle with a flood or salvage title, but sellers are required to disclose the status of such titles to potential buyers, according to state officials.
“Omission of material facts to buyers, such as the existence of a flood or salvage title, violates the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. We will take action against those who attempt to deceive used car buyers, including the filing of lawsuits where warranted, in order to protect consumers,” NJ Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a release.
The online database can be visited at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/floodedcars. The service allows users to enter unique Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) to see if the vehicle has been issued a flood or salvage title.
Before purchasing a used vehicle, state officials advise that consumers should:
- Check the vehicle's title history and be wary if the vehicle has been titled multiple times over a short time period.
- Obtain a vehicle history report from the dealer, or get one yourself from a reputable source; this will let you know if the car has been damaged in the past
- Look for an insurance company's name on the title history, and contact the company for vehicle information.