Did you know that a flooded car is one of the most overlooked risks when it comes to buying a used car? Many people overlook this risk. Even some dealers don’t check for flood damage before putting a car up for sale. Even if you buy from an honest dealer (who may not look too deeply beyond the blatantly obvious), there’s no fail-safe way to guarantee you don’t get a flooded car unless you take specific precautions beforehand and do a pre purchase inspection. Used cars often have hidden issues like flood damage and other adverse conditions that involve living through some unfortunate circumstances, but we’re here to help you avoid these problems. With the right tips, finding a quality car and avoiding damaged cars is possible.
Know The Signs Of A Flood-Damaged Car
If you’re not 100% certain whether a car has been in a flood, you could end up with a money pit on your hands. Make sure you know the signs of a flood-damaged car before you buy. In particular, look out for water stains inside the engine bay, rust along the car’s electrical wiring, stains under seats and dashboard, moisture in tail lights, stains on door speakers and a musty smell inside the cabin. You may also want to check the car’s title history to see if it’s been declared a flood car. This is not always a guarantee, as it may have been an ‘uninsured’ flood damaged car and simply being sold or traded. If it was an insurance ‘flood damage – write off’ then this will be documented.
Research The Seller
Before you visit the seller’s place, it’s important to collect some information about them. You don’t want to go barging in, demanding to see the car if you don’t know a thing about the seller. You can conduct a quick reverse phone number search to find out more about the seller. This can reveal things like their full name, address, and contact details for a business, but generally does not work for private numbers in Australia. It’s also a good idea to run the seller’s vehicle VIN number through the vehicle history report (www.ppsr.gov.au) to see if the car has been in any accidents or has been flooded.
Ask To See The Car’s Maintenance Records
When you’re inspecting the car, make sure to ask the seller for the car’s owner’s manual and maintenance records as well. These documents should contain information like oil-change dates and general repair work performed. The more records you can see, the better. Service books on their own are not always true, so invoices that show work from dealers are preferred, and if you can call the dealer/service centre and they are helpful, they ‘may’ be able to confirm that it has been there for services, even if they won’t give you more information, due to Privacy act rules. If the seller can’t produce these records, it’s a big red flag that something is off. The records may have been lost in an accident or flood, or the seller could be trying to hide something. It may even be a car that has had an odometer ‘rollback’. Either way, we recommend you walk away from the deal.
Check The VIN Number
To ensure the car’s title is legitimate and hasn’t been tampered with, you should check the VIN number to see if it matches the title. Make sure to run the VIN number through the database to see if the car has been in any accidents or has been flooded. If the car has been in an accident, you should have the seller provide proof of repair. You can also check the car’s damage history report to see if the car has been in any accidents.
Look For Discolouration
If you notice discolouration on the car’s electronics, wiring, and other electrical equipment, there’s a chance the car has been in a flood. Check the car’s airbags, seat belt buckles, and sun visors for signs of discolouration as well. If the car’s body panels or interior fabrics have been discoloured by the rust, the car could have been flooded. Keep an eye out for any rust on the car’s suspension components as well.
Test The Brakes And Steering
As you’re testing the car, pay attention to how the steering wheel and brakes feel. If they feel too squishy, they may need to be replaced. If the car has been in a flood, it’s likely that the car’s steering and braking system have been affected. Make sure to test them out before you buy the car.
Check The Odometer Reading
Most people don’t check the odometer reading on a used car, but you should. The odometer reading on a used car should be consistent with the car’s overall condition. If the seller tells you the car has 100,000km on it but the odometer reading is much lower, there’s a good chance the car has been tampered with. If you suspect the car has been flooded, there’s a chance the odometer was replaced after the water damage occurred. On newer cars, with electronic odometers, this ‘tampering/correction’ is quite easy. However on some makes the km are recorded in various other systems/modules, and an experienced inspector will know where to look, and whether the car appears to be genuine km.
Confirm The Car Is Certified Pre-Owned
If you’re buying a new car, you may want to consider buying a certified pre-owned vehicle. This is a car that has been inspected by a certified third party to ensure that it’s in “like-new” condition. Certified pre-owned vehicles come with a warranty, so if the car does happen to be damaged. You can have to return it if it was not disclosed or have it fixed. With the right precautions, it’s possible to avoid buying a flood damaged car.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be one step closer to finding a quality car at a good price.
Why It Is Important To Do Pre Purchase Inspections?
Flooding can cause significant damage to vehicles. The damage is not always immediately evident, and may not even have been a major flood or water immersion, but sporadic electrical issues may present themselves, at any time and may be incredibly expensive to trace and repair, and in some cases, be financially unviable. It’s important that you take steps to prevent buying a car with this kind of damage.
Our experts at German Precision Pre-Purchase Car Inspections will inspect the vehicle for any signs of water damage and provide recommendations on whether the car is flood-damaged or not.
If you notice any signs of water damage in the car you want to buy, such as wet carpet, mould, mildew, or rust stains, call us on 0421 083 390. Our expert technician will come out to the car location and perform an inspection of the vehicle. We will then provide you with a detailed report outlining the condition of the car. Stay vigilant, and you’ll avoid purchasing a lemon.