We all know of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which hit Mississippi and Louisiana. It did billions of dollars in damage.
It also damaged thousands of new and used automobiles at dealerships, as well as privately owned vehicles.
Plenty of cars and trucks have been under water -- and that's salt water.
Soon somebody will try to sell those vehicles or trade them as if they were normal cars and trucks without any damage.
A lot of those vehicles will end up at auctions across the nation.
You wouldn't think those vehicles would show up outside the Gulf area, but you can bet they'll be all over the United States in a heartbeat. After all, who would think that Katrina-damaged vehicles would appear in California or Maine?
New-car dealers must be on the alert for them. I have no doubt that the car auctions of North America are already watching for them, but I'm not sure that new-car dealers and their used-car managers are aware of the possibilities.
If a dealer gets stuck with a water-damaged vehicle, it will be tempting to try to get rid of it through an auction rather than giving it to a trade school.
On the other hand, if a car or truck is labeled as hurricane-damaged and is priced dramatically lower than normal, I suppose it could be a great buy for people who think they can fix it themselves.
But the title should always reflect that it was damaged by the hurricane. That should be part of the vehicle's history.
Thousands of new cars and tens of thousands of personal-use vehicles have been damaged, many way beyond repair.
For the next year or so, dealers throughout North America must be cautious so they don't get stuck with those water-damaged vehicles or unwittingly sell one of them to one of their customers.
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.