Used Cars in the Storm

November 7, 2012 / John Paul Strong / 0 Comments /

Superstorm Sandy has hit and the damage estimates are piling up for both private-property owners and businesses. One area for our industry that inevitably comes under the microscope after catastrophic weather is used vehicles that were either damaged by debris or flooded.

Unfortunately, there are precedents to look at regarding used cars that have been damaged by hurricane flooding including Katrina, Rita and Wilma from 2005. Those storms damaged over 600,000 cars and many of those still come up for sale today. Because of titling loopholes, water-soaked vehicles can be detailed and shipped out-of-state only to return with a “washed” title. For the most part, this activity is confined to independents and private-party sales. You can be sure the consumer watchdogs will be looking for violators.

As a dealer you know the dangers of selling vehicles that have received this type of damage; your customers may not be on the same wave-length. We are urging our dealers to communicate through e-blasts the pitfalls of purchasing used vehicles unless their history is totally complete – that is the first step in building consumer confidence in your approach to recovery. Remind your market that the danger of flood-damaged vehicles goes far beyond mildew and mold. The gravest danger is to a vehicle’s electronic systems, many of which are integral in safety-features.

We are going to further examine the effect of this storm on price levels, inventory availability and buyer-preferences for particular models in future blogs.

To everyone who is digging out, we send our continued thoughts and prayers. And from having seen rebuilding efforts from previous storms remember these two words:  caveat emptor – buyer beware!  It is not just flooded vehicles that take advantage of consumers but also fly-by-night construction crews that promise the world then take the money and leave you high-and-dry in the worst way.  Good luck.

About the author

John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as an account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40.” In 2018, Strong was named CEO of the Year by the BBJ. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.


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