New Jersey has issued a warning to consumers to be on the lookout for flood-damaged vehicles for sale in the wake of recent hurricanes. Its chief administrator of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, Raymond Martinez, stated that "storm damaged vehicles can show up thousands of miles from their original home and may be offered for sale for years to come." Surprisingly, it's perfectly legal to sell flood-damaged cars and trucks. But sellers are required to disclose the status of vehicles to potential purchasers, the MVC said. The vehicle's owner must put the phrase "Flood Vehicle" on its Title, Assignment of Certificate of Ownership or Manufacturer's Statement of Origin, if it is a new vehicle. Martinez advised purchasers to look at the vehicle's history report for an indication that it was a damaged vehicle or some suspicious rash of title transfers or quick transfers in multiple states. Sometimes this is an attempt to "wash" a title. Cars branded as flood vehicles by insurance companies can make their way to salvage and auction lots for sale, said Frank Scafidi, of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. There is a huge market for used cars and disreputable guys can pick up these cars, in places like Texas and Florida, very cheap and make a nice profit on an unsuspecting buyers who are looking for great deals. With modern vehicles loaded with sophisticated electronics, computerization and safety equipment, it's critical to avoid getting stuck with one of these lemons, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Flood waters are contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants. And it's almost impossible to remove it from vehicles. Looks can also be deceiving. With a nice clean-up, these water-logged vehicles can actually look pretty good. This underscores the importance of knowing how to identify a flooded vehicle. While the best advice is to have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic before purchasing it, there are also several things to consider, according to the MVC and Consumer Federation: 1. Check the VIN number with the crime Bureau or CarFax for free flood history. 2. Look for damp materials or musty odors. Run the A/C and check for funky smells. 3. Check for rust on metal parts where water would not ordinarily touch, such as around the doors, in the wheel wells and under the seats, hood and trunk. 4. Look for water stains on upholstery, door panels, and seat belts. Check the glove box, ashtray and other compartments for signs of moisture. 5. Check all of the power equipment, including the moon roof, windows, locks, wipers, window washers, lights, heater, A/C, radio and Bluetooth. 6. While driving, listen for unusual engine or transmission sounds or erratic shifting and acceleration. 7. Check for water or fogging inside the head and tail lights. 8. Move the seats forward back, try the safety belts and check all of the folding seats. Listen for the sound of sand or silt in the mechanism. 9. Make sure the used or new car dealer is licensed by the state. If unsure, call the DMV to check. Remember the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."