SAN DIEGO - Erik Leiken unknowingly purchased a vehicle on the Internet that had been in Louisiana when the Hurricane Katrina struck. Only 5 years old, his Chevrolet Cavalier had patches of primer paint, appeared to have had a hard existence, reported in USA TODAY.

Still, the odometer showed only 70,000 miles. And the car was a private-party bargain at $2,400, far below what he figured a dealer would charge.

But by the time the Chevy broke down a second time in San Diego freeway traffic, Leiken concluded that he had bought a clunker damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

"I should have had alarm bells going off," says Leiken, 21, who says his suspicion was confirmed by mechanics who found telltale rust, salt and water damage in the engine and residual moisture in the trunk. A Carfax vehicle-history report proved the car was in Louisiana when the hurricane struck.

As the second anniversary of the storm approaches, relatively little has been done to protect consumers from the estimated thousands of flooded cars and trucks from Katrina that eluded scrappers. And that's to say nothing of the cars and trucks that will become flotsam in hurricanes yet to come.