BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - If you're in the market for a used car - buyer beware. Some dealers are finding ways to sell vehicles heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Insurance experts estimate more than 200,000 cars, trucks, and vans were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Most of them will be "totaled" and written off as a total loss because it would cost more to repair them than to replace them. But industry experts estimate as many as half of them will end up back on the road.
Carfax Spokesman Chris Basso said, "Where right now it is about one out of every five cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy has made their way back onto the road."
New York has some of the most stringent protections for used car buyers when it comes to damaged vehicles. If a car is totaled, the title is "branded" so buyers, sellers, and insurers know the car has been severely damaged.
But a damaged car can be rebuilt and taken to another state where a branded title can be "washed" or have that designation removed. If you suspect a car you are buying might have been totaled by Sandy, Carfax is offering to check the car's Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, for free.
"And see if any flood-damaged information has been reported to Carfax for that particular vehicle they want to buy. That is an absolutely free service we are providing following Superstorm Sandy," Basso said.
He added there are some telltale signs the average buyer can check to avoid a bad car in the first place, such as rust anywhere on the car, a musty smell, and water marks.
Basso also recommends, "[Checking] the wires underneath the dashboard, see if they are brittle or cracking, which may show signs that water was in there. Look in the trunk and in the engine compartment [to] see if you see evidence of silt or a water line that shows water was once in that car."
While officials don't believe many of these cars have made it to western New York, they could also be sold on the web.
A Town of Tonawanda restaurant owner has been arrested and charged with strangulation and assault.
State Police need your help finding the pickup truck driver who pinned a mother against her vehicle as she was loading her baby and young son into it and then fled the scene.
A house became engulfed in flames on Route 243, in Rushford, early Wednesday morning.
The Thruway Authority is asking drivers to avoid I-90 between the Hamburg and Dunkirk exits. Motorists are asked to avoid the area because of traffic and visibility.
Lakes will remain active on and off through the weekend.
One third of Canadians receive their mail straight to their door but that will soon be changing. Canada Post will phase out their door-to-door delivery over the next five years.