Britain’s second hand car dealers are being warned to be on the look out for cars affected by flood damage and water ingress coming onto the market as a direct result of the recent extreme winter weather conditions and relentless heavy rain.
It is crucial to know how to identify flood-affected vehicles, which might seem cheap bargains at first, but could well be hiding a range of potentially fatal problems that will only come to light after money has changed hands.
Water can be extremely damaging to a car. The catalytic converter and exhaust system can be severely affected, while the electronics can break beyond repair – this can be catastrophic if air bags suddenly deploy on a random journey, or fail to do so in a collision.
Cars’ brakes, wheel bearings and starter motors can also be ruined by water, yet this is not immediately obvious when a used car comes under inspection.
Top of the inspection list should be to check for the presence of water inside the car – feel the carpets and seats to see if they are damp and check inside the windows for condensation that’s unusually heavy.
Rocking the car gently will agitate water lying along the bottom of light housings, while heated blowers that cause steam to creep up the windows that doesn’t dissipate straight away are likely to have water inside that needs to be removed.
Telltale signs of water in the engine include a thick, white deposit around the oil filler cap, as well as a faulty air bag warning light.
Buyers concerned about getting saddled with a dangerous flood-damaged car can check registration plates against a data checking facility to make sure the vehicle is not an insurance write-off.
Greater security can be found by purchasing used cars from a dealer or car supermarket, rather than a private seller, as this gives the buyer greater come-back in the event of problems emerging hours, days or even weeks after the sale is complete.
Buyers should also always insist on seeing the manufacturer’s warranty in the case of newer vehicles, and securing a receipt and all relevant paperwork with confirmed contact details of the seller. The floods of winter 2014 have caused plenty of disruption around the country.
Caution and careful double-checking will help ensure the damage does not spread further through the second hand car market in the weeks and months ahead.