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Auto buyers beware of flood-damaged cars, ICBC warns

A car and houses damaged by the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy, one month after the disaster at Union Beach, N.J.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is warning vehicle purchasers to beware of a possible flood of vehicles from the United States that have been flood-damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The public auto insurer issued the warning after the American Association of Motor Vehicle Transport Administrators said tens of thousands of vehicles on the U.S. east coast were submerged in salt– and bacteria-contaminated waters.

Transportation Minister Mary Polak points out that more than half a million vehicles were damaged during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and thousands of those vehicles were imported into Canada – even though they're not legal to drive on our roads.

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Flood-damaged vehicles are classified in Canada as "non-repairable" and don't qualify for road use.

Ian Christman, the registrar at the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C., says the best way to protect yourself from getting one of these vehicles is to buy from a licensed dealer who is required to know and disclose the history of the auto.

Those who buy from a private seller are urged to watch for damp or musty odours inside the vehicle and to look for signs of rust in the vents and test all electrical aspects of the vehicle.

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