Today, over seventy per cent of insurance write off's are from flood damaged vehicles even though most vehicle owners will still be hesitant to report their car to the insurers straight away, due to losing the risk of losing excess and no-claims bonuses. The worrying concern is there could be a surge of previously water damaged cars placed on sale throughout the UK.
Avoiding flood damaged cars
Written off cars are those with water damaged engines; these cars have literally been destroyed by the floods. A flooded engine only needs a couple of tablespoons of water for the car to be ruined. The concern is also for those cars that haven't had a flooded engine, but have had minor water damage elsewhere.
To risk not losing insurance excess and no-claims bonuses, people will try drying out their flood damaged cars, tidy them up, re-spray and sell them.
Furthermore, some insurance policies may not even cover flood damage cars. This is another motivating factor for people to sell the car as quickly as possible.
Third party only or third party fire and theft does not cover flood damage vehicles. Only comprehensive policies cover flooding; however, there could be exceptions with some insurance companies. Check your insurer's terms and conditions for any flood damage exclusions. Where ever you live, it stands to reason to buy a fully comprehensive policy. It covers practically everything, including personal belongings, flooding, medical, legal, accidents, windscreen and much more.
Spotting flood damaged cars
Never buy a car that has a price tag below market value, this is a cause for concern.
Check the V5C document to inspect the owners address, this will tell you if the car has come from a flood zone.
Ask the dealer or owner if it has been a water flooded car and watch their response time on how quick they get back to you. A slow answer could indicate an issue, but a quick firm 'no' without hesitation is always a good sign.
Smell the car for any mould residue as any car that has been water logged will have a pretty strange odour. It's pretty difficult to completely get rid of unpleasant water smells. A word of warning, some sellers will try to mask the offensive odour with air freshener. If that fragrant smell is over powering, it could mean the seller is trying to cover up the musky smell.
Double-check the whole length of the seatbelts, carpets, doors, roof and upholstery for water dis-colouration. If anything looks out of place, blotchy, water stained or is notably brand-new, then there is a chance the car could have been previously water damaged.
When a car has water damage, there is a chance, there will be corrosion and rust. Check for re-sprays, touch ups and bubbling paint inside and outside. Flood damaged cars can corrode materials long after re-spraying a car. Your alarm bells should be ringing when many latches and brackets are rusting inside and outside.
Electrics are complicated so if in doubt call a professional. Check the electrical system by listening to the stereo, wipers, ignition, lights, indicators, horn, cigarette lighter, air conditioning, heated seats, brittle wiring and anything else. If you are familiar with cars, you will know if the electrical system is faulty.
Other components to check are the oil (this should be blackish not milky brown), condensation in the lights, air filter, wheel wells, doors, boot, glove compartment, spare tyres, under the seats and seat tracks. Should you find massive amounts of debris, then this is a clear indication the car has had water damage in the past.
If you are unsure take a mechanic with you to inspect the car, this is always a good idea when buying a new motor whether water damaged or not.