Buying a Flood Damaged Car 2024 – The Insider’s Guide
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Buying a Flood Damaged Car 2024 – The Insider’s Guide

With recent floods caused by Storm Ciaran, Storm Debi and Storm Antoni in 2023, many victims will be worrying about the damage caused to their home and very likely their car too. In 2020, figures showed that over 3,000 cars were rescued from flood water in just one day, so there is the risk of an influx of  flood damaged cars appearing on the used car market.

With that in mind, it’s an ideal time to think about whether it is or isn’t a good idea to buy a flood damaged car, and what you need to know to avoid any pitfalls.

Warning Signs of a Flood Damaged Car

Repairing a car that flood water has damaged might be challenging due to several serious problems that aren’t immediately obvious.

The first obvious sign if a car has history of being flooded is that it will be labelled as a Category A write off. You can easily find this out by checking the car’s history before purchasing it.

A flooded car typically sells well below its market value, signaling another clear indicator of its history of flood damage.

Though one can restore flood-damaged cars to a reasonably good state, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate the smell of mold and mildew. Sniff the car—if you detect an unpleasant odour, it likely has a history of flooding.

If smelling wasn’t enough, feeling the car is also a great way as it is likely that a dealer couldn’t completely remove all moisture from the car. Whilst you are looking over the car to feel for damp make sure you use a keen eye to check for any visible stains caused by dirty water.

 For the next visual clue you need to move to the outside of the car, and check the lights; as already mentioned it is pretty much impossible to remove all the damp from the car, and this includes the headlights. If the lights appear foggy this will be due to water which hasn’t been able to completely evaporate.

Cars naturally corrode over time, often due to water. However, when a car sits in flood water for an extended period, corrosion intensifies significantly. Inspect exposed metal inside and outside the car for extensive rust, including unusual areas and rusty screws. Rust on newer cars often indicates prolonged exposure to high water.

Water seeping into a car’s electrics causes severe present and future electrical issues. Test-drive the car, checking all electrical components for anomalies like faulty lights, wipers, or audio systems.

After all of these checks, if you still aren’t sure whether you could be purchasing a flood damaged car, then the best thing to do is ask an expert.

Should You Buy A Flood Damaged Car?

So if you do discover a flood damaged car, the next question is should you actually buy it?

First, let’s assess the depth of water the car was submerged in. If it was in a small amount of water, the damage might be minimal but with a heightened risk of rust. Submersion in deeper water could have affected the electrics, potentially causing expensive long-term problems.

Consider the water’s depth and duration of the car’s submersion. Minimal water exposure might cause less damage but increases the risk of rust. Deeper submersion could have affected the electrics, leading to expensive long-term problems.

Severe corrosion jeopardizes a car’s safety and protection in crashes. Saltwater flooding exacerbates corrosion, making the car potentially unsafe to drive.

While avoiding flooded cars might be cost-effective, minimally damaged ones could serve as inexpensive short-term transport. However, their resale value will likely diminish.

Need Expert Advice?

For expert advice or a thorough vehicle check by our technicians, contact us at 01291 627137 today.


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  • Armstrong
    November 23, 2018, 9:25 am REPLY

    Only a certified car mechanic can restore the performance of a flood damaged car

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