By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – Hurricane Harvey did not hit Colorado in August, but it is now. Not with rain, but with flooded cars.

(credit: CBS)

To learn more about the issue, CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger interviewed David Ali at Altitude Auto, a used car dealership on West Colfax Avenue in Denver.

“Are they trying to pass these cars off on you?” Sallinger asked Ali.

“Yes, these people are definitely cleaning them up and trying to hide some of the flood damage,” Ali said.

He showed CBS4 pictures of a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe that recently came in from Texas. It may look fine from the outside, but a closer inspection revealed a flood of problems.

(credit: CBS)

Rocks and weeds are hidden from the untrained eye.

(credit: CBS)

“The first thing I like to do is pull out the seat belt and see if I can find any water marks,” Ali said.

He popped off the floor covering along the door, which revealed the car had been through a lot.

Ali then moved to the back of the Tahoe.

“What I look to do is go to the lowest point of the vehicle and look by the spare tire,” he said. “If there’s flood damage, it would be there.”

Doug Ehrlich is a buyer’s agent whose job is to protect the consumer. He says vehicle identification numbers should be checked not only on Carfax, but Auto Check and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“With the rarest of exceptions, the vehicle will check out well with a third party inspection,” Ehlrich said.

Doug Ehlrich (credit: CBS)

CBS4 checked those agencies, which showed the Tahoe had been flooded.

Altitude Auto said when it gets a car that appears to have flood damage, it sends it back where it came from after it buys extra insurance to protect the dealership.

Carfax has a web page that anyone can use for free to see if a car had been reported as flood damaged. There is no charge to look up a car’s vehicle identification number.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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