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Avoid buying flood-damaged cars with a few simple tips

A car dealer in Manalapan, New Jersey pled guilty Monday to theft by deception after he manipulated the titles of cars damaged in Hurricane Sandy and sold the cars to unsuspecting customers.

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Four months after superstorm Sandy blew through the East Coast wreaking havoc in its path, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has announced its revised estimates for the number of vehicles damaged in the storm's wake. The new total now stands at a staggering 250,500 vehicles (for perspective, about 15,000 of the vehicles are shown parked on a runway in the images from New York above).

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The damage from a major natural disaster can be harrowing – loss to life and limb combined with property damage, environmental, economic and psychological impact make picking up the pieces difficult. But long after the crisis ebbs, the damage lingers, becoming ever more pernicious and difficult to discern. Mold inside walls, unseen weakened structures... they all get covered up with fresh coats of paint. So, too, it is with the automobiles affected.

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Don't assume you are insured for a total loss

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of cars and trucks have been flooded by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. Do you know what you should do if your car is flooded, or of you see a flooded car? Here is our advice:

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California has passed new a new law that further regulates the car-buying process, and the changes appear to be mostly positive. Automotive News reports that, beginning next July, dealers will need to slap a red warning sticker on any vehicle with a salvage title. That means any vehicle that has been legally deemed flood-damaged, junked or salvaged will receive the ominous label.

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Click above to watch the video after the jump

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With the horror of Katrina behind us and the rebuilding underway, there is another threat remaining from this devastating natural disaster. Hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks that had been submerged under several feet of water have now dried out and are, in many cases, finding their way onto the used car market. For buyers, these cars may seem like any other used car offering once they've been cleaned up, but the threat of future problems is great with a machine that was never intended to

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