With floods affecting many areas of the UK over recent weeks, motorists looking to buy a used car should be mindful of checking potential purchases carefully for any potential water damage before parting with their cash.
Tim Naylor, editor of BCA’s annual Used Car Market Report commented “Potentially hundreds if not thousands of cars will have been damaged in the floods and many will have been written off because of the cost of repairing electrical components, interior fittings and catalytic convertors. Rather than claim against insurance, some unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off their cars in a private sale, so buyers should be aware of the tell-tale signs.”
“Even the most scrupulous clean may not totally eradicate water damage, so be a ‘flood detective’ when appraising a potential purchase. Screws, bolts and fixings may well rust, so check out-of-the-way areas under the dash, seats, door sills and engine bay. Look for fine silt deposits in spots like the spare wheel storage area, door handle recesses or footwells. Are the carpets damp, irregular and ill-fitting or even been replaced? Are the windows constantly steaming up? These could be clues the car has sat in deep water.”
He added “Don’t just use your eyes. Does the car smell musty or damp? Even if the interior has been cleaned there may be a smell of stagnant water lingering inside and door panels might be warped or even have a faint tide mark.”
While the financial consequences could be considerable, there is a potentially significant danger to life and limb by driving a flood damaged vehicle. Braking systems may be compromised, while an electrical fault in today’s sophisticated engines could leave you stranded at a moment’s notice or – even worse – cause a high speed accident.
Naylor added “As always, if you are thinking of buying privately rather than from a reputable dealer, be sensible and make sure you check over the car fully. Even better, ask a competent mechanic to examine your potential purchase before making a decision.”