31/12/12 - Could your next car be flood damaged? - Car Inspection Vehicle Inspection Van Inspection - MViUK

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31/12/12 – Could your next car be flood damaged?

With large amounts of rain over the past few months and large areas of flooding, which means along with houses and businesses, cars are also being damaged by water.

Estimating that insurers could be facing claims for up to £14 million for cars written-off by recent weather, cars which have been immersed in water may seem to be undamaged but can store up potentially fatal faults in electrical components such as the airbags, which could detonate unexpectedly or not deploy at all when needed and potentially cause serious injury but also some mechanical items may seized or be damaged such as wheel bearings and brakes.
Whilst most flood-damaged cars and are disposed of don’t reach the open market, some may find their way on to the used car market.
Beware private sales
Some owners whose vehicles, once dried out, may appear not to have been seriously damaged by water could simply sell their cars on without making an insurance claim. Buyers should beware from buying from private vendors as they may have no come-back when problems emerge maybe after some weeks.

Tips to spot a flood-damaged car

Windows may be left open to let out the smell of damp. Feel the carpets – and if the interior smells of air-freshener, it may be hiding something worse! Check for water in the spare tyre well.

If the inside of the windows are seriously running with condensation, there is moisture inside the car – misted windows are usually OK.

Take the oil filler cap off and check underneath the cap. If there is a whitish, mayonnaise-like deposit (emulsified oil) under the cap, there is water in the engine.

Start the engine and turn the heater blower on to the windscreen. If the glass immediately steams up and takes a long time to clear, there is moisture in the system.

The air may also have an unpleasant odour. Modest misting could be the pollen filter being damp or filter drain blocked, get that checked.

Check to see if the air bag warning light works – it should come on and then go off after a few seconds. If the air bag electronics have been submerged they may fail when needed or go off unexpectedly while driving.

Check light housings for trapped water – rock the car and if water is present, you’ll see it moving behind the lens.

Vehicles suffering water damage will usually be CAT A (scrap only) or CAT B (break for parts).

Have an independent professional inspection on the car of your choice. An MViUK Vehicle Inspection can identify existing issues with a car, such as electrical problems and bodywork damage

Make sure you are given a valid receipt – a trader should supply a formal printed document and offer a warranty. If buying privately, document all details of the car and its vendor

On newer vehicles, check the manufacturer’s warranty. Where the vehicle is known to have been flood damaged, the manufacturer may have voided the warranty.