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Beware Sandy-damaged vehicles, MPI warns car-shoppers

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A badly damaged home is entangled with a vehicle along the beach in the Belle Harbor section of the borough of Queens, N.Y., in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Motor vehicles damaged by flooding in Hurricane Sandy on the American Eastern seaboard could wind up for resale in Manitoba, warns Manitoba Public Insurance.

About 700,000 vehicles were damaged by flooding in Hurricane Sandy. These vehicles can be dangerous.

"Water can enter electronic components of vehicles, causing corrosion and malfunctioning of important safety features such as airbags. There may also be health concerns because of mould and other toxins," said Ward Keith, MPI registrar of motor vehicles, in a press release.

Flood-damaged vehicles entering Canada are supposed to be branded "irreparable" and cannot be registered for road use. However, vehicles could slip across the border unbranded if the owner doesn't open an insurance claim.

No such vehicles have been sold in Manitoba to date to MPI's knowledge. However, consumers can check the history of a vehicle from the U.S. by going to the free Car Proof service.

Other steps before buying a use vehicle include:

  • Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted and certified automotive technician before purchase.
  • Check for damp or musty odours.
  • Check for any signs of rust or mud in the trunk, glove box and beneath the seats.
  • Check under the hood and look for a water line marked by mud or silt.