Vehicles from Superstorm Sandy could show up in Colorado

DENVER - Hundreds of thousands of vehicles damaged in Superstorm Sandy could begin popping up on Colorado used car lots.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," warned Shannon Barber, General Manager at Meineke Car Care Center in Denver.

Nobody knows that better than Jeff Sambdman.  He bought a Jeep Liberty from an auction in 2004. It was sold to him with no mention that it had been in a flood.  The car's title was as clean as the car looked.

"That car was spotless.  I was looking for that bargain, I paid the price," Sambdman told 7NEWS.

If you're not careful, you could pay the price too.  More than 230,000 cars were destroyed in the floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy.  Barber said many could be headed for Colorado, similar to what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

"It’s a very serious issue.  Of the car dealers that are not necessarily reputable, maybe brokers for dealers will purchase these vehicles, take them somewhere like Chicago or somewhere else, maybe re-title them once already, then bring them to Colorado.  The car will look like it came from Illinois instead of the East Coast," Barber said.

That's why he said it's so important to do your homework.

 "The first thing I would start with is Carfax, see the history of that vehicle, where it’s been and where it was titled, and then bring it in and have a shop take a look at it," Barber advised.

There may be more obvious signs like rust, a mildew smell or corrosion in the engine. Still, as Sambdman knows, spotting a lemon can be a sour deal.

"You would never know, you really would never know."