Buying a Flood Damaged Car – Yes or No? And What You Need to Know
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Buying a Flood Damaged Car – Yes or No? And What You Need to Know

With recent floods caused by Storm Desmond, Storm Eva and Storm Frank, many victims will not only be worrying about the damage caused to their home but also their car or other vehicle. Figures from the AA showed that over 3,000 cars were rescued from flood water since late December, with that in mind there is the risk of an influx of flood damage cars appearing on the market.

With that in mind, we thought it would be the ideal time to think about whether it is or isn’t a good idea to purchase a flood damaged car, and what you need to know about flood damaged cars.

Warning Signs of a Flood Damaged Car

It is actually relatively easy for someone to repair a car to a point that it looks like there is nothing wrong with it, but if a car has been damaged by flood water there could be a whole number of serious problems that would not be 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 history before purchasing a used vehicle.

If a car has been flooded it will usually be well below the market value this is another clear sign that is has history of flood damage.

Even though flood damaged cars can be repaired to a reasonably good condition it is pretty much impossible to remove the smell of mould and mildew formation, take a whiff of the car and if you find this unpleasant smell then it likely has flood history.

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, one major cause is water, but if a car has been sat in flood water for a significant period of time the effect of corrosion will be increased. You should check exposed metal in and outside the car for rust.

Obviously water and electricity do not make a match in heaven, if water has got into the electrics of a car this can cause a number of issues presently and in future. Therefore it is crucial to take a car for a test drive to specifically ensure that all the electrics are working correctly.

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?

Firstly let’s consider how deep the car was submerged, if the car was only in a small amount of water the damage could be minimal with mainly an increased risk of corrosion and rust, however if the car was submerged in deep water and the electrics have been affected, this could cause long term and expensive problems.

On top of the depth of the flood water, you should consider the longevity of the car being submerged. Unsurprisingly, the longer it is submerged, the more damage will have been caused. Ensure you find this out before you agree to purchase.

Severe corrosion could make a car unsafe to drive, and will provide less protection in the event of an accident. If a car has been flooded by salt water this will cause additional corrosion to a point of making a flooded car too dangerous to drive.

Water could have entered into the transmission through the transmission fluid dipstick hole. And if that has happened, you’ll be lubricating the transmission with only partly transmission fluid and unwanted water. This would mean a new transmission.

As already mentioned the most obvious way to identify a flood damaged car is that it will have a Category A write off. This is an obvious sign that the car has been severely damaged and isn’t recommended to be sold on.

 These reasons should definitely be taken into account to decide whether it is worthwhile to buy a flood damaged car. In most case it would probably be more cost effective to not buy one but that doesn’t mean you should always say no. If there is minimal damage a flooded car could make a cheap, short team transportation solution. But when it comes to selling the car on in the future, it will likely have no resale value.

Need Expert Advice?

If you require that expert advice, or want one of our technicians or mechanics to give a used car a once over to ensure it is a viable purchase contact our team today on 01291 627137.


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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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