Watch out for flood damage when buying used cars

19th September 2014
Posted in Advice

We’ve talked regularly about the dangers and problems caused by flooding to homes, and as we’re now entering Autumn, many people especially in rural areas or near rivers will be giving serious thought as to whether they may see flooding this year, as has happened several times over the last few winters to the dismay of homeowners.


Recent reports of flash-floods in parts of America such as Arizona and Michigan have prompted warnings in the automotive media over there for car-buyers to tread carefully. It’s not unknown for some unscrupulous second-hand dealers to take a car that has been seriously damaged by flood waters, dry it out, and then sell it on without warning the buyer.


Water ingress into a vehicle leaves some obvious traces such as marks on seats, but these can be removed, leaving the real problems invisible to the naked eye. One such is to the car’s electrical system – water severely impairs the car’s electrical and computer systems, and since so many features in modern cars are completely reliant on these, that makes them hazardous to drive. Best-case scenario, the car may simply break down as you pull off the forecourt. Worst case, your ABS brakes or airbags may fail to deploy.


So how to be sure you’re not buying a wreck? Firstly, ensure you thoroughly check all the car’s electronics before purchase, from lights to brakes to steering assistance, until you’re confident everything is in good working order.


Secondly, if you’re at all worried, then rely on your senses. Can you smell any mould in the car? If your sense of smell isn’t very good, bring along someone whose is. And look in parts of the car where someone trying to hide water ingress may have missed marks, such as in the boot, or under seats, for signs of moisture.


And remember that if your car suffers water ingress this winter, bring it into a qualified technician such as Hall’s straightaway for a check-up to make sure you’re safe on the roads.

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