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Buying a Pre-Owned Car - Beware: The "Sandy" Cars Are In The Retail Channel
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Buying a Pre-Owned Car - Beware: The "Sandy" Cars Are In The Retail Channel - December 13, 2012, 08:07 PM

Hey troops, just a heads up. The Sandy vehicles are beginning to wash up on shore. I say this because coming from New York, I know most of the motorcycle and motorsports dealers on Long Island are dotted along the South Shore and specifically along Montauk & Sunrise Highways. As a matter of fact I believe the largest motorsports dealer in all of lower New York is in Wantagh/Rockville Center.

So the backstory is as such. A friend of mine was about to purchase a Lexus GS from a local independent dealer last week and exited the deal last night.

He ran a CarFax and nothing popped, but decided to have a PPI done.

According to the records the car was originally sold in Florida, then moved variously through Maryland, Connecticut, and New York before being auctioned and dropping off the radar for a month or so.

Despite the fact that the dealer did not know the correct color (it's black - but Lexus has 3 blacks to choose from) or all the options (fully loaded) on the car, after a quick test drive he was interested and negotiated an aggressive price, contingent on an acceptable PPI.

What was found in the PPI was not necessarily shocking at first for a car with barely 31,000 miles - a rear shock was leaking, repainted door handles, a small leaking oil pan gasket, the windshield was a replacement, but it gave reason to inspect further.

Then came the tell tale signs - the license plate light had some condensation trapped inside the bezel, the faint smell that he mistakened for Lysol which he believed was being used to cover up a former smoker owner the PPI place identified as Microban - an antimold and fungal agent. They moved and decided to get down inside some of the wiring harness pulling off the connectors, the insides were hazy white with akaline oxidation. Next they removed the rear seat and the underside of the seat and chassis sound deadened showed all the tell-tale marks of something which has been introduced to copious amounts of water.

He walked away from the deal and demanded that they dealer cover half the PPI inspection cost for attempting to sell him a flood recovery. The dealer professed not to know about the car's history, only that they purchased it from a wholesaler and countered with a 3% off the negotiated price (Dafuq?!), then a $750 credit on any other car on the lot, but under threat of bad publicity, relented and agree to reimburse him for half the PPI.



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December 13, 2012, 08:53 PM

PPI? What is that?


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December 13, 2012, 08:57 PM

Yea i am getting ready to buy a car next week and I am afraid of this happening as well. I get my cars from dealer only auctions (mannheim) but i am unsure about going that route this time.
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December 13, 2012, 09:57 PM

this it gonna happen all the time across the entire east coast, it's going to be horrible.


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December 13, 2012, 10:01 PM

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PPI? What is that?
I didn't know either and found this while searching:

Used-Car Pre-Purchase Inspection | J.D. Power
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December 13, 2012, 10:06 PM

Yep, I don't fuck around when it comes to buying used cars. PPI + compression and leak down tests...the full nine yards


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December 14, 2012, 12:23 AM

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PPI? What is that?
At my job, I call it a Pre-Planned Illness...typically used for nice riding days


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December 14, 2012, 06:42 AM

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At my job, I call it a Pre-Planned Illness...typically used for nice riding days
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December 14, 2012, 07:22 AM

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At my job, I call it a Pre-Planned Illness...typically used for nice riding days
Just down to CVS to pick up some sheen.


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December 14, 2012, 07:26 AM

While there are definitely going to be some of these cars out there, the vast majority get claimed through insurance, go through the process, and come out with a branded title. Definitely agree that PPI is the way to go when buying any used car, but I'm just saying it's not like every flooded Sandy car is going to be disguised and sold with a clear title.
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December 14, 2012, 07:33 AM

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At my job, I call it a Pre-Planned Illness...typically used for nice riding days

When I get a job im going to use PPIs all da time. good to know!
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December 14, 2012, 07:49 AM

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While there are definitely going to be some of these cars out there, the vast majority get claimed through insurance, go through the process, and come out with a branded title. Definitely agree that PPI is the way to go when buying any used car, but I'm just saying it's not like every flooded Sandy car is going to be disguised and sold with a clear title.
Where's Wildjester. I'm sure in his course of business, he comes across this manner of flim-flam every now and then.

I would like to know they end-around Carfax and in some cases wash the title to not reflect Recovery or Rebuild.

That's not to say that flood damaged cars are necessarily horrible. I bought one in my late-teens that previously had taken a dip in a Lake Ronkonkoma. Got a great deal. So long as the seller is forthcoming and there is disclosure, the buyer is aware of what they are purchasing in totality.



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December 14, 2012, 08:23 AM

It really depends on how complicated the car is, where the electronics are housed, and how high the water got. I worked at a junkyard\salvage dealer for a summer during college and some would come in and be absolutely fine, particularly when they were simpler cars or the ecu was mounted high and the water only got to the floorboard. My favorite was a Jeep that got claimed as flood damage -I wish I had the money back then to pick that up.

Others would come in and be completely fcked, particularly luxury cars with lots of electronics and especially those with the ECU or electronics mounted under the seat and where the water level was higher.

The problem is, they both look the same when they get cleaned up so it's really hard to tell where the water line was. Sometimes you can peel back the carpet or look under the dash somewhere, but it really just depends on how much time the detail crew spent. I probably wouldn't buy a flood car unless I saw it before it was cleaned up and could tell where the water line was. Electrical gremlins are a btch.
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December 14, 2012, 01:55 PM

I need to buy a car for my son to drive back and forth to school and I will be on the lookout for this. Good info.


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December 15, 2012, 02:52 PM

Yes, caveat emptor. Even a dealer warranty wouldn't be of any great use because flood cars always seem to start exhibiting their problems after the 30-day warranty expires.

Lemon Law is of no use either.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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