posted 10 months ago

How To Avoid Buying The Flood Damaged Cars Set To Swamp Market

AA reveals how to spot a flood damaged car and claims the used market could be swamped following recent bad weather.

The used car market could be swamped with flood-damaged stock following the recent bad weather but suspect vehicles can be identified, the AA said.

The motoring specialist confirmed that whereas some victims look intact they have hidden faults.

Simon Douglas, Director of Insurance, said: “Catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously reduced, wheel bearings could seize, brakes can be affected and alternator and starter motor could fail.

Mr Douglas continued: In addition, water can seriously affect electrical and electronic systems including the airbags which might go off unexpectedly, or not deploy when they should.”

Flood damaged vehicles might be written-off by an insurer, but legally repaired and returned to the road.

The Category C or Category D classification - as revealed by an independent history check - proves a problematic past, although not specifics such as flood damage or collision. A C/D classification is a clue, however.

Harder to spot is the vehicles that have been repaired without intervention from an insurer and lack a classification.

Ian Crowther, of AA Insurance, said: "Our concern is that owners of vehicles - where water hasn’t damaged the engine - may decide to dry out the car as best they can. Then, rather than risk losing their excess and no-claims bonus offload it through the used market."

Tips to spot flood-damaged cars

  • Windows may be left open to let out the smell of damp. Feel the carpets  – and if the interior smells of air freshener, it may be hiding something worse. Check for water in the spare tyre well.
  • If the inside of the windows are seriously running with condensation, there is moisture inside the car. Misted windows are usually OK.
  • Take the oil filler cap off and check underneath the cap. If there is a whitish, mayonnaise-like deposit (emulsified oil) under the cap, there is water in the engine.
  • Start the engine and turn the heater blower on to the windscreen. If the glass immediately steams up and takes a long time to clear, there is moisture in the system.  The air may also have an unpleasant odour. Modest misting could be the pollen filter being damp or filter drain blocked, get that checked.
  • Check to see if the air bag warning light works. It should come on and then go off after a few seconds. If the air bag electronics have been submerged they may fail when needed or go off unexpectedly while driving.
  • Check light housings for trapped water. Rock the car and if water is present, you’ll see it moving behind the lens.
  • Ensure any rust is consistent with the age of vehicle. Excessive rust or corrosion could indicate the vehicle has been damaged by water.