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Assembly Panel Oks Cryan, Diegnan &Moriarty Bill to Require Water Damage Disclosure in Vehicle Sales

Measure in Response to Sandy Damaged Vehicles Now Hitting the Resale Market

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Democrats Joseph Cryan, Patrick Diegnan and Paul D. Moriarty that would require vehicle documents to indicate if a vehicle has suffered from storm or flood damage and for the information to be disclosed prior to the sale of the vehicle.

The Assemblymen sponsored the legislation in light of the thousands of vehicles damaged during Hurricane Sandy and recently appearing on the resale market without any indication to the buyer of the damage it has incurred.

“Only months after the storm, unscrupulous car dealers pawning off practically unsalvageable vehicles surfacing like predators of the sea and preying on NJ car buyers,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Many of these vehicles are barely good for parts. In many cases, even if rebuilt the vehicles safety cannot be ensured.
“This is clearly bad business and can quickly become a public safety issue if New Jersey does not take precaution and strengthen existing law.”

The legislators cited an article published in January by the NYTimes, which noted that over 230,000 cars were damaged by the Superstorm Sandy, mostly from the ocean water filling engines and interiors with sand and corrosive saltwater.

“It is good for businesses to disclose to consumers any concern that may be associated with their purchase,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “The buyer should be informed of the vehicle’s complete history. Sellers must be required to disclose all important information as part of the transaction, especially if it’s communication concerning safety. The overwhelming majority of car dealers are honest businesspeople. The handful of dishonest dealers must be held accountable for their improper dealings with New Jersey customers.”

“It’s a masquerade –dealers reselling severely corroded, damaged vehicles without informing the buyer,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Due to the differences in state laws some sellers are getting away with this deception by bringing damaged vehicles from other states to sell.

“This bill is common sense consumer protection legislation that would give the buyer the lawful backing needed in filing a claim if defrauded in a sale concerning storm battered vehicles.”

The bill (A-3610/3632) would require that a seller of a motor vehicle disclose if the vehicle had ever been damaged by water or a weather-related event. Under the bill, the seller would have to indicate whether the vehicle had ever suffered damage caused by water or weather-related event that required repairs on the vehicle’s certificate of ownership or bill of sale, or other documents, as required by the Chief Administrator of Motor Vehicles.

The Assemblyman said residents must remain extremely cautious when shopping for a used vehicle these days by checking car reports, inspecting the vehicle closely, and asking questions about damage the vehicle has suffered.

The bill was amended in committee to specify the damage to the vehicle must have been caused by a named storm. The measure will now go to the desk of the Assembly speaker, who will decide when to post it for a floor vote.