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Cars flooded in Hurricane Ian end up in Detroit for salvaging parts

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-03 15:27:16-05

Flooded high-end luxury cars from Hurricane Ian are making their way to Detroit, but these particular vehicles aren't exactly flooding the market for used cars.

They're serving a different purpose: Many of their parts are in high demand, and people are removing them to sell the parts.

When Hurricane Ian hit the west coast of Florida, it caused devastation and destroyed a lot of vehicles.

One of those cars was a brand new Rivian – an electric truck – which was seen in a salvage yard in Detroit. It had less than 200 miles on it.

It turned out it was in the flood waters of Ian, and Carfax.com found nearly 360,000 cars and trucks were totaled during Hurricane Ian.

Freshwater and saltwater are the anti-heroes when it comes to cars and their electronics.

Many of those cars ended up at auctions, and several are now at Pacific Motors on Detroit's east side.

"We purchase them from the insurance company to take the good parts off that are salvageable and put those into new vehicles again to be reused and to be fixed," Anthony Garrison, the sales manager at Pacific Motors.

One of those cars is a shell of a 2003 Rolls Royce that was flooded with salt water. The good parts like fenders, wheels and other parts are in bins ready to be inventoried and then sold. They have rows and rows of parts.

But, flooded vehicles that have been cleaned up and put on used car lots are putting unsuspecting buyers at risk.

"From just a glance down the street, it doesn't look like it's been in a flood. This could be a car with a little of a wash and a little shine on the tires you could have this on a car lot tomorrow," Garrison said.

Some parts like rusted-out seats, electrical modules, and corroded airbags become a major safety hazard.

"A lot of vehicles have 10 to 15 modules in them that control different aspects of the car's functionality, so it's important to see where the waterline is," Garrison said.

The best advice, Garrison said, is to buy things from people who know what they're doing.

Buyer beware when you take a look at your next used car. Make sure you follow some of these steps such as looking at a CarFax and checking things such as rust on the bolts on the inside of the seats because that could be a tell tale sign the car has been in a flood.