The NJ Consumer Affairs Division has warned used-car buyers to be wary of fraud because thousands of vehicles were damaged by the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.
But at least one buyer, who picked up a four-month-old Lexus - cheap - is happy.
The luxury vehicle that went underwater in Ventnor was advertised on Craig's List as a flood car, so Clarence Hamer was fully aware of the risks. After doing research, Hamer, a Brooklyn resident who tinkers with cars, said he was confident he could assess the damage and make an informed decision.
Before purchasing the car last month, he thoroughly examined it and found minimal water damage on the carpeting. Hamer doesn't want to disclose the deal he got but says he's pleased.
A New York City auction house, which recently auctioned off hundreds of abandoned flood-damaged cars, reported one sold for $300 while another went for $10,000. "Just because a vehicle is titled as flood-damaged doesn't mean it's inoperable," auctioneer David R. Maltz said in published reports.
And, if the car is cheap enough, the repair costs may be worth it.
Hamer said that he noticed the fuse box and the unit below the seat unit that holds the car's computer were unscathed. "If those things are untouched or not damaged," the vehicle is probably fine, he said in a phone interview.
The former lease-holder, Marc Rosenberg, confirmed that the water rose only as high as the floorboard after seeping into his garage during the storm. Rosenberg said he would have liked to keep the car, but the Lexus dealer voided the warranty when the seawater was reported and when he noticed the car radio and cruise control weren't working properly.
The car then was turned over to the insurance company, which totaled the car. It was resold it to a car dealer in Pennsylvania.
That's where Hamer came in. "I'm happy - for now," he said, chuckling. "I'll let you know later if I'm still happy," he said.