Southern California breaking news and trends

Hurricane Sandy-damaged cars may be flooding into auto auctions

Superstorm Sandy

Richard Drew/AP

Cars are submerged at the entrance to a parking garage in New York's Financial District in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels.

Beware of super sales on Superstorm Sandy-damaged vehicles, say two national consumer groups. 

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) and National Consumers League (NCL) issued a warning to potential car buyers on Tuesday about the "tens of thousands" of flood-compromised cars changing hands and potentially entering the auto auction market.

"Flood cars are ticking automotive timebombs," said Rosemary Shahan, President of CARS. "Flood cars are inherently unsafe, particularly since all the electronic systems that control the engine, brakes, air bags, and other vital safety systems are hopelessly contaminated and will inevitably fail."

Even car buyers far from Sandy's wrath need to be on alert, say the groups.

“Flood damaged vehicles can be shipped across the country in a matter of days,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “Consumers throughout the US need to take specific steps to protect themselves from inadvertently buying these vehicles.”

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Hot Wheels: 20 high-end stolen vehicles intercepted by border agents

2010 Ferrari

Ferrari

A Ferrari 458 Italia supercar has an output of 126hp per liter.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recentlyintercepted 20 high-end stolen vehicles in Long Beach that were on their way to Hong Kong and Vietnam, the agency announced.  The high priced hot wheels included Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes brands and are valued at $1.5 million.

One of the dream cars included a 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia "supercar" whose power output of 126 horsepower per liter is the highest of any production Ferrari model in history.  In fact one would expect such a machine to go so fast it could simply hydroplane to Asia.

Instead the vehicles were intended to be shipped the traditional way, by freighter, and even though smugglers used false documents claiming the vehicles were "used fitness equipment", officials weren't fooled.

"CBP officers discovered that smugglers using false identities leased or purchased the brand new vehicles, defrauding several local dealerships, financial and insurance companies," the Dept. of Homeland Security agency said in a statement.

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