The Washington State Attorney General's office has issued a consumer alert for cars that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy being sold across the country and in Washington state.

There have been enough complaints filed that the AG's office and Better Business Bureau have issued an alert. No specific details of individual cases were listed in their press release, but officials say a significant number of vehicles sold recently have been traced back to New Jersey and the East Coast.

According to the BBB and AG's office, this is not uncommon after a natural disaster.  Often, stranded or flooded vehicles are not claimed right away by owners, or have been written off and sent to wrecking yards to be destroyed for insurance purposes.

Con men then buy dozens of them, clean them up so they appear to be normal and sell them to unsuspecting drivers. These cars appear to be normal but almost always have issues with their electrical systems, corroded wires and other problems leading to engine failure. They also usually have internal unseen mildew issues inside door panels, seats and the trunk.

Some tips on buying a vehicle at any time, from the BBB:

-Test drive the car to check its operation condition

-Check the gauges to make sure everything is in good working order

-Complete a visual inspection for any flood damage or ill-fitting body parts

-Check it out with your mechanic

They also stress it's a good idea, especially when buying from a private party, to have the VIN number researched thoroughly. This will quickly tell you if the vehicle was involved in an accident, or just as important, a natural disaster.


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