Flood Risk: Why you should never buy a Flood Damaged Car

Summer is a distant memory and winter is only around the corner. This means severe weather for many parts of the UK over the coming months. While it is always touch-and-go as to whether we get a significant amount of snowfall, there is one thing we can always pretty much guarantee: rain. And with rain comes flooding.

If you’re in the market for a used car over the coming months, then it’s important to remember that flooding will be occurring in various parts across the UK. This means that there is an increased risk that any car you look at may be flood damaged.


What’s so bad about a Flood Damaged Car?

Typically, if a car is flood damaged it is written off by insurers. This is because it is likely to need a considerable amount of repairing in order to make it fit for the road again. Key components within the engine, ignition, fuel and exhaust systems will need to be checked and repaired as appropriate, in order to make sure that the car is safe to drive.

The cost of checking and replacing these components is extremely high. It is usually more financially viable for insurers to write the car off as a Category A or B write-off. In such a case this means the car can legally only be scrapped or broken and sold for parts. It should never return to the road again.

Dishonest sellers will often patch up and hide any evidence that the car has been flood damaged or written off. They then sell them on to unsuspecting buyers. This means that you could end up buying a previously written off car and not know about it. That is, until things start to go horribly wrong.

But how do you know if a car has been written off if the seller is not willing to be honest and tell you? Fortunately, our car check will identify whether any car has been previously written off or subject to any insurance claim.

Flood damaged car
It’s not always this obvious if a car has been damaged by flood water

Too Good to be True?

One way that dodgy dealers use to get rid of cars that have been previously written off is to sell them cheap.

And flood-damaged cars are no exception to this rule. So, if you’re looking at buying a used car and you see one that is considerably cheaper than all of the others, then it’s quite possible that there is a reason for it. In some cases, it might be a genuine reason such as the need for a quick sale.

In this case you will likely find that you are getting a bargain. Without completing a car history check there is no way of telling for sure whether or not a car has a hidden past. Therefore we always advise completing a check on any car you go to view.


How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Car

While it is not always possible to tell straight away that a car has been flood damaged in the past, there are a few obvious tell-tale signs to look out for when you view the car.

  • Check the inside of the windows for condensation – this would indicate excess moisture inside the car.
  • Turn the heating on. If the windows steam up, then it is likely that there is extra moisture within the car somewhere
  • Check the footwells to ensure that the carpets are dry and not stained by water.
  • A car interior should not smell damp or musty. Beware of sellers trying to disguise the smell with air fresheners.
  • Check under the bonnet for signs of water ingress to the engine bay. Be suspicious if any engine bay is immaculately clean.
  • Look underneath the car and behind the wheels for signs of corrosion. Especially if they are excessive given the age of the vehicle.
  • Check that electric windows, mirrors etc all work correctly. Electronics will be faulty if they have been damaged by water.

If you spot anything suspicious after checking the above, then the best advice is to walk away. In case you are really not sure, then a car history check will help to confirm whether or not the car has been written off by an insurance company in the past. If the history check pricing shows that it has been written off but the seller is not forthcoming with this information, then it is always a good idea to walk away from the transaction.

There is no shortage of used cars out there, and the financial implications  of unknowingly  buying one that has been written off are too plentiful to risk.



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