Motor Industry News
Storm clouds gather for car buyers across the UK as recent floods increase danger of damaged vehicles. Buyers of used cars are being warned to consider the possible damage caused by recent flash floods before parting with cash for their next set of bargain wheels.
There are fears that a problem which has become widespread in the United States and Australia is now beginning to appear in the UK as an increasing number of vehicles are appearing on the open market after suffering serious weather-related damage.
Prior to the recent torrential rain and floods reports of storm damage to British cars were on target to hit a six year high. In the first three months of this year (2007) some insurance companies received around three times as many reports of storm damaged vehicles as they did for the whole of the previous 12 months.
Now, as insurance companies count the cost of the last few weeks those figures look set to rise to an all-time record. Vehicle safety experts fear that this higher number of storm damaged cars will lead to a mirroring of the activity in the US as unscrupulous individuals attempt to pass off badly repaired or damaged vehicles as OK.
“After Hurricane Katrina flood damaged cars started appearing back on the US market at twice their usual rate,” said Roger Powell, General Manager of mycarcheck.com.
“In the UK incidences like the severe flooding we have seen recently might be few and far between but if the scientists are right this kind of occurrence will become more common. “
“Such cars may look fine at first glance, but in many cases the safety and electronic systems can be compromised. People need to be aware that these cars will be hitting the market anywhere within the UK in the next few months,” he said.
Torrential rain in recent weeks caused millions of pounds worth of damage to property as communities across the country were deluged with flash floods which closed many roads and forced motorists to abandon their vehicles to the rising waters.
Many vehicles which are damaged by flood waters, falling trees and windswept debris are repairable even though insurance companies may have written them off as uneconomical to fix. However, problems arise when the repairs are not carried out properly or the seller wants to hide the fact the car has been damaged in order to negotiate a better price.
According to a report published by the American International Automobile Dealers Association the number of flood damaged vehicles in the US rose by 103% in 2002/06, due in no small part to Hurricane Katrina, compared to the previous five-year period between 1997 and 2001.
“While no one is suggesting that storm damage in the UK is on the same scale as in the US British motorists should be aware that the same unscrupulous practice of selling on damaged cars is becoming more common in this country,” added Mr Powell, spokesman for the vehicle history checking website owned and run by insurance software and technology specialists CDL Group Holdings.
“After a major natural weather event such as we are experiencing in the UK at the moment lots of affected cars will begin showing up for sale all over the country. “
Some sellers will admit the vehicles have been flooded or suffered storm damage, and the price will reflect that. However some vehicles will be cleaned and repaired to attempt to hide the problems and in some cases those problems could be potentially dangerous!
Nobody knows yet how many vehicles have been damaged by the recent storms but most insurance companies are bracing themselves for a large number of claims.
Top Tips to Spot a Possible Flood Damaged Vehicle
- Always check the vehicle's title history as insurance record may indicate whether it has sustained flood damage
- Check the interior and the engine compartment carefully for evidence of water and grit.
- Examine underneath any recently shampooed carpet for water residue or stain marks.
- Look for rust on the inside of the car, especially under the interior carpeting, and check for any sign of fading on the upholstery and door panels.
- Take time to look under the dashboard for any dried mud, mould or a musty odour in the upholstery,
- Examine any screws on the inside of the vehicle, such as around the console, for any sign of rust.
- Look in the engine compartment for any signs of dried mud or grit.
- Examine the electrical wiring system for any evidence of rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.