State warns about car scams after Hurricane Sandy

CREATED Dec. 28, 2012

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin transportation officials are warning car buyers to watch out for vehicles damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

The Department of Transportation warns the storm caused water damage to tens of thousands of vehicles, making their electrical systems suspect. Agency officials say it's likely the vehicles will start showing up on used-car lots across the country as their owners complete insurance settlements.

Buyers should look for musty smells, water-spotted upholstery, dirty taillights, silt around the air filter, discolored or painted hood insulation, brittle wiring and rust in unexpected places.

Consumers also can check a vehicle's history by running its identification number through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System's website. Insurance companies are now required to report to NMVTIS any vehicle deemed a total loss.