Early estimates show thousands of Houston-area car owners and dealerships lost vehicles during Hurricane Harvey. With scarce resources, many residents are turning to car rental companies to find transportation.
If your car was flooded, finding reliable transportation, even temporary transportation, can be a lifeline in a commuter city such as Houston. To avoid long waits for rental vehicles, residents are encouraged to request a vehicle as soon as possible.
Some rent-a-car companies such as Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Alamo, Enterprise, and National rent-a-car agencies, even have emergency response plans in place for dispatching vehicles to affected areas faster. In addition to shipping vehicles to affected areas, Enterprise also waives one-way trip fees for renters who drop off their vehicles in Houston. Residents are encouraged to be patient as vehicles are shipped to Houston from other areas.
METRO also offers limited bus service in unincorporated areas, including areas along FM 1960 and Ella Boulevard. Commuters returning to work this week can check out METRO Park & Ride. Those with disabilities in need of transportation can visit METROLift, which has resumed regular service. Trips should be scheduled one day in advance in the normal manner: Online or by calling 713-225-6716 or 713-225-0410.
Visit www.ridemetro.org/Pages/BusSched.aspx to find out if METRO runs in your area.
Buying a Vehicle
As insurance checks and FEMA assistance arrive, many residents will begin looking for more permanent transportation replacements. While vehicles damaged by Harvey may be on the market for years to come, you can take steps to avoid buying one.
First, check the title. Any vehicle declared a total loss should have a salvage title. If the vehicle is repaired, it will have a salvage-rebuilt title.
You can find out more about the vehicle’s history by requesting the vehicle identification number (VIN). The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free service on its website (www.nicb.org) called VINCheck. Enter the vehicle identification number, and NICB’s database will show if that vehicle has been stolen or listed as a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program.
You can also invest in a complete vehicle history report at www.txdmv.gov/motorists/buying-or-selling-a-vehicle/title-check-look-before-you-buy.
While title checks catch most flood-damaged vehicles, a few may slip by. Owners may do their own repairs and attempt to sell the vehicle before long term-flood damage, like corrosion, shows up.
While these vehicles may appear to be in good working order, electrical and mechanical problems can show up years down the line. Try to have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle and buy from a reputable dealer.
The Texas Department of Insurance advises buyers to look out for signs of water damage, including stains, mildew, rust, or discoloration. Dirt or debris under the floor mats, carpet, spare tire, and other unusual locations are other indicators. Water damaged vehicles will also have a distinctive musty odor that sellers may try to hide with strong air freshener. Look out for new carpet in an old car, water lines in the engine bay, or fogging headlights.
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