There are expected to be more and more flood-damaged vehicles on the used car market as a result of the treacherous weather conditions seen in the UK recently and over the coming months. As buyers you need to be on the guard and know exactly what to look out for.
Receipts for replacement engine or parts
If a vehicle has been driven into a flood or submerged for a period, water can overcome the intake manifold, causing the engine to hydraulic lock. This may mean that the engine is replaced or comprehensively overhauled. Be suspicious and ask questions if there are receipts for these items. Look at the full exhaust system, sometimes the rear box is changed to disguise flood damage.
Random or strangely placed scrapes and dents to the bodywork
It could just be a scruffy car, but if a relatively recent model is randomly dented this may have resulted from debris carried by fast running water.
Lift the bonnet and look for silt and mud deposits on the engine and associated components. Then get on your knees and look for surface corrosion and body damage on the lower sills and floor, including axles and component brackets. Steel wheels are either very corroded, or freshly replaced to cover signs of water immersion.
Look inside for the telltale signs of flooding
Open the doors to see if there are any tidemarks staining the upholstery. Take a good look at internal recesses, including cup holders, ashtrays, cubbyholes and door pockets for signs of silt and mud. Lift the carpets to look for rust, mould, dampness and/or silt. Check for rust on all seat-retaining bolts and seat frames. Also, if the seats are electric, do they still work? Indeed, a combination of intermittent electrical problems, dash warning lights and inoperative electrical components could suggest water has got into the system.
And finally use your eyes and nose
Look in the glove box for any manuals, paperwork and information packs, they may show signs of water damage. Also some cars still smell damp if they have been deep cleaned and there may still be some condensation.